Skip to main content

NIMAS for SEAs & LEAs

Both State education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) have responsibilities related to the provision of accessible formats from NIMAS files through the NIMAC for qualifying students. The State Director of Special Education leads the following activities on behalf of the SEA and LEAs.

Are some terms new to you? See the definitions section on this page or visit NIMAS & NIMAC.

AEM Center Notes

What are the references to NIMAS within IDEA 2004?

  • Part B, Section 612 (a)(23) and Section 613 (a)(6) of IDEA - see the IDEA Part B Assurances at the end of this page.
  • Part D, Section 674 (e) of IDEA
  • Title III, Section 306, which amends the Copyright Act in 17 USC 121.

In May of 2020, the U.S. Department of Education clarified that the definition of “print instructional materials” in IDEA includes digital instructional materials. See the Final Notice of Interpretation.

Required actions by statute

  • Annually, adopt NIMAS. Complete and submit Office of Special Education Program (OSEP) IDEA 2004 Part B Assurances as part of the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) application for funds.
  • Annually, opt in or opt out of the NIMAC. Complete and submit Office of Special Education Program (OSEP) IDEA 2004 Part B Assurances as part of the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2006 application for funds. SEA assumes role of coordinating agency with the NIMAC.
  • Annually, for States that opt out of the NIMAC, provide an assurance to OSEP that instructional materials will be provided in a timely manner to students who meet the criteria for eligible person. Complete and submit OSEP IDEA 2004 Part B Assurances as part of the FFY application for funds.
  • Annually, require that LEAs choose to either coordinate or not (opt in or out) with the NIMAC as part of LEA assurances to the SEA. This is a requirement for LEAs in order to be eligible to receive IDEA funds. The SEA's application package sent to LEAs should include the assurance at 613(a)(6). If the SEA has already sent out its application package and did not include the NIMAS assurance at 613(a)(6), it may send out a separate opt in or out selection form to be returned to the SEA with signature. The form should make clear that this is an eligibility requirement. Issue as part of the LEA application for IDEA funds or with other assurances to be provided by LEAs to SEAs for annual funding.
  • Establish and distribute policies and procedures to protect the intellectual property rights of K-12 publishers. Work with the AEM Center (and NIMAC if the SEA coordinates with the NIMAC) to develop and implement policies and procedures that consider the qualified student populations to be served and accessible materials use policies designed to protect the intellectual property rights of K-12 educational publishers. Update these policies as needed.

Strongly suggested actions

  • Designate a SEA Special Education employee as primary contact for NIMAS and NIMAC-related matters. This person will serve as NIMAC State Coordinator. Inform the AEM Center of contact information by email to aem@cast.org and NIMAC to nimac@aph.org. A list of State NIMAC Coordinators is maintained by the AEM Center.
  • Organize a NIMAS/Accessible Materials Coordinating Council for the state to improve communication among those with shared responsibility for the successful implementation of the NIMAS. Suggested council members:
    • Primary contact (State NIMAC Coordinator)
    • Assistive technology (AT) agency representative
    • Instructional Materials Coordinator (if state has one)
    • Education technology/digital learning representative
    • Services for blind/low vision students representative
    • State-wide assessment office representative
    • Parent representative (e.g., from Parent Training and Information (PTI) centers)
    • Educational publisher representative
  • In coordination with the State NIMAC Coordinator and NIMAS/Accessible Material Coordinating Council, identify and review current SEA and LEA approaches for providing accessible formats to students who meet the criteria for eligible person. Review existing systems for production and delivery of accessible formats available to and within the state.
  • Develop procedures to ensure the timely delivery of accessible formats to students who meet the criteria for eligible person, including the following:
    • In keeping with established NIMAC policies, implement approaches for downloading NIMAS filesets from the NIMAC (who will be allowed to do so, where, for what purpose, access by contractors, etc.).
    • Develop policies regarding appropriate materials to be included in SEA and LEA requests for files submitted to the NIMAC.
    • Identify approaches to developing and delivering accessible formats to students who meet the criteria for eligible person.
    • Consider use of national authorized entities such as American Printing House for the Blind (APH), Bookshare, and Learning Ally. Explore various membership arrangements such as student, school, district, county, and state-level agreements with such entities.
    • Consider use of state-level Instructional Material/Instructional Resource Centers (IMC/IRCs) for braille, large print, and tactile graphics.
    • Consider contracts with conversion houses to develop accessible formats for students within the state.
    • Consider purchase of accessible formats directly from K-12 publishers if and when available.
    • Define policies regarding the purchase, use, and protection of print instructional materials when accessible formats are provided to students in electronic formats. Note: The U.S. Department of Education has clarified that the definition of print instructional materials includes digital instructional materials. See definitions for more information.
    • Consider purchasing a state license for essential hardware and software for the use of accessible formats. Where appropriate, add items that meet state-specific specifications to the state bid list.
    • Consider naming Bookshare and Learning Ally as state Authorized Users (AUs). This promotes the timely creation of accessible formats from NIMAS filesets by authorizing conversions when a request is made on behalf of a qualified student.
  • For states that are coordinating with/have opted in to the NIMAC, contact the NIMAC with any questions regarding AUs, access by national authorized entities, access by LEAs, and the required Limitation-of-Use Agreement (LUA)
  • Encourage documentation of student-preferred accessible formats within each Individualized Education Program (IEP) as appropriate. 
  • For states that opt in (i.e., are coordinating with the NIMAC), include NIMAS language in publisher agreements.
    • Textbook Adoption States:
      • When an agreement with a K-12 publisher is made to adopt instructional materials (either print materials or digital instructional materials that are NIMAS-conformable), the SEA requires the publisher to submit a NIMAS fileset to the NIMAC. Alternatively, the SEA purchases instructional materials from the publisher that are produced in, or may be rendered in, accessible formats.
      • When an LEA is allowed to purchase instructional materials that are not included on an adoption list, the procedure for Open Territory States should be used.
    • Open Territory States:
      • When an agreement with a K-12 publisher is made to adopt instructional materials (either print materials or digital instructional materials that are NIMAS-conformable), an LEA that has opted in requires the publisher to submit a NIMAS fileset to the NIMAC, or purchases instructional materials from the publisher that are produced in, or may be rendered in, accessible formats.
  • For states that opt out (i.e., elect not to coordinate with the NIMAC), procedures are put in place to provide accessible formats for students who meet the criteria for eligible person.
    • Textbook Adoption States:
      • SEAs and/or LEAs purchase source files when and if they are available directly from publishers, establish a secure access, distribution, and tracking system, and arrange to use such files to produce student-ready accessible formats, and/or
      • SEAs and/or LEAs purchase student-ready versions when and if they are available directly from publishers, and/or
      • SEAs and/or LEAs establish a workflow for scanning print materials and producing or otherwise obtaining audio books, braille, large print, and other appropriate accessible formats in a timely manner.
    • Open Territory States:
      • LEAs purchase source files when and if they are available directly from publishers, establish a secure access, distribution, and tracking system and arrange to use such files to produce student-ready accessible formats, and/or
      • LEAs purchase student-ready versions when and if they are available directly from publishers, and/or
      • LEAs establish a workflow for scanning print materials and producing or otherwise obtaining audio books, braille, large print, and other appropriate accessible formats in a timely manner.
  • Monitor the provision of accessible formats to students who need them.
    • Maintain a summary of SEA-level activities related to the preparation and delivery of accessible formats.
    • Require that LEAs maintain a record of local activities related to the preparation and delivery of accessible formats.
  • In coordination with the state assistive technology (AT) agency or agencies, identify and share LEA best practices regarding accessible materials and appropriate access hardware and software.

In every case, regardless of their relationship with the NIMAC, both the SEA and LEA remain responsible for ensuring that accessible formats are provided in a timely manner to students who meet the criteria for eligible person.

IDEA Part B Assurances

Adopt NIMAS
24a. The state adopts the NIMAS for the purposes of providing instructional materials to blind persons or other persons with print disabilities, in a timely manner, after the publication of the NIMAS in the Federal Register in accordance with 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(23)(A).

Opt In
24b.1 The SEA coordinates with the NIMAC and not later than two years after the date of enactment of the IDEA of 2004 the SEA as part of any print instructional materials adoption process, procurement contract, or other practice or instrument used for purchase of print instructional materials, enters into a written contract with the publisher of the print instructional materials to:

  • require the publisher to prepare and, on or before delivery of the print instructional materials, provide to the NIMAC electronic files containing the contents of the print instructional materials using the NIMAS; or

  • purchase instructional materials from the publisher that are produced in, or may be rendered in, specialized formats. 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(23)(C).

Opt Out
24b.2 The SEA has chosen not to coordinate with the NIMAC but assures that it will provide instructional materials to blind persons or other persons with print disabilities in a timely manner. 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(23)(B).

Definitions

Accessible format
The term ‘accessible format’ is defined in Section 121 of the Copyright Act, known as the Chafee Amendment: [A]n alternative manner or form that gives an eligible person access to the work when the copy or phonorecord in the accessible format is used exclusively by the eligible person to permit him or her to have access as feasibly and comfortably as a person without such disability. See The Chafee Amendment for more information.

Adopt
An SEA or LEA commits to the use of NIMAS source filesets to create student-ready versions.

Authorized entity
A non-profit organization or governmental agency with primary mission to provide specialized services to an eligible person.

Authorized User (AU)
An agent of a coordinating agency with access to the NIMAC database who may download NIMAS-conformant files in accordance with established NIMAC agreements.

Coordinating agency
An SEA or LEA that coordinates with the NIMAC by directing publishers to provide NIMAS-conformant files to the NIMAC.

Eligible person
Under IDEA, in order for students to be eligible for NIMAS-derived materials, they must: (1) be receiving special education services under IDEA and (2) meet the National Library Service (NLS) qualification criteria for “eligible person.” See The Chafee Amendment for more information. 

Intellectual property rights
Section 306 of IDEA 2004, which amends the Copyright Act, provides publishers with the right to transfer electronic materials to the NIMAC as long as they possess the print rights to such materials. This protection is to ensure the delivery of materials for which electronic rights may not have been obtained or are simply not available. This protection does not apply to files delivered directly to SEAs and LEAs by publishers for the purpose of creating accessible formats for qualifying students.

Limitation-of-Use Agreement (LUA)
A legal agreement ensuring NIMAS filesets are converted for the exclusive purpose of producing accessible materials for qualifying students.

NIMAC
The National Instructional Materials Access Center at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) serves as the national repository for NIMAS filesets. By statute, it was established on 12/3/05 and became operational on 12/3/06. Visit the NIMAC’s website.

NIMAC State Coordinator
Individual responsible for coordinating with the NIMAC on behalf of an SEA, as well as designating and managing the state’s NIMAC Authorized Users. Visit the State Coordinator section of the NIMAC’s website.

NIMAS
The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard is a technical specification developed for the purpose of promoting the development of high quality and consistent source files to be used to create accessible formats for qualifying students.

Open Territory State
A state that is not a textbook adoption state and generally allows LEAs to determine which textbooks and related core materials are appropriate for each LEA.

Opt in
An SEA or LEA chooses to coordinate with the NIMAC. Note that this is not intended to prevent SEAs or LEAs from maintaining current practices, but it is generally thought that the use of the NIMAC will prevail once the national repository is populated with K–12 textbooks and related printed core materials source files. Another choice available under opting in is to acquire student-ready versions or source files directly from K–12 publishers when and if such materials are available.

Opt out
An SEA or LEA chooses not to coordinate with the NIMAC and assumes full responsibility for producing and delivering specialized formats to students with print disabilities in a timely manner.

Print Instructional Materials
The term 'print instructional materials' means printed textbooks and related printed core materials that are written and published primarily for use in elementary school and secondary school instruction and are required by a state educational agency or local educational agency for use by students in the classroom. In most cases, an SEA or LEA will determine what should be considered "related printed core materials." In May of 2020, the U.S. Department of Education clarified that the definition of print instructional materials in IDEA includes digital instructional materials. See the Final Notice of Interpretation.

Textbook Adoption State
A state that has established policies and procedures for evaluating and recommending textbooks and related instructional materials for use within that state for the purpose of achieving standards.

More for SEAs & LEAs

NIMAC State Coordinators

Locate contact information for state and territory NIMAC State Coordinators.

NIMAS in IDEA

Find the sections of IDEA 2004 that reference NIMAS.

NIMAS in Purchase Orders & Contracts

Find sample language for NIMAS to include in purchase orders or contracts with publishers and vendors.

NIMAS FAQ

Find answers to commonly asked question about the National Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS).

Top of Page