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Special Education

National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) Additional Assurance Required for IDEA Part B Grant

To:Superintendents and Administrators of Special Education
From:Marcia Mittnacht, State Director of Special Education
Date:May 15, 2006

One of the topics addressed by IDEA is the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS), which is designed to streamline access to instructional materials for students who are blind or have other print disabilities.

Attached please find a fact sheet on (NIMAS) prepared by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). In addition, there is a NIMAS technical advice website which provides a detailed explanation of the NIMAS provision and its background. The website is National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials

States' Responsibilities

Every state is required to adopt the NIMAS. NIMAS outlines a set of consistent and valid specifications for document source files created by K-12 curriculum publishers or other content producers that can be used to create accessible specialized formats of print instructional materials. Curriculum materials covered by NIMAS include printed textbooks and printed core materials that are written and published primarily for use in elementary and secondary school instruction and that are required by a state or school district for use by students in the classroom. Each state must provide an assurance to OSEP as part of the State's Part B application that students who need curriculum materials in alternate formats are provided with those formats in a timely manner to insure access to the general education curriculum.

In addition, the state may choose to "opt-in" or "opt-out" of the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC). NIMAC will create a national repository of NIMAS source files that can then be converted into formats that are accessible by students who are blind or have other print disabilities. Massachusetts has decided to "opt in" and has provided an assurance to OSEP regarding our participation in NIMAC. Even though Massachusetts does not order textbooks for districts, choosing to participate in NIMAC will help districts aquire student-ready versions in a more timely and cost-efficient manner. We will provide further information on this process in the fall of 2006-7.

Districts' Responsibilities

Each district has the option of participating in NIMAC. Whether a district does or does not participate in NIMAC, the district will be responsible for ensuring that each child who requires instructional materials in an alternate format will receive it in a timely manner. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recommends that districts choose to participate in NIMAC, because this national effort to centralize the distribution of instructional materials in alternate formats will help guarantee timely provision of such materials to students.

For districts that choose to participate in NIMAC, contracts with publishers executed on and after December 3, 2006 for textbooks and other printed core materials must include a provision that requires the publisher to produce NIMAS files and send them to the NIMAC (this will not add any cost to the contract). Curriculum publishers have been involved in discussions relating to NIMAS and are well aware of its requirements. Model contract language is included below:

"By agreeing to deliver the materials marked with "NIMAS" on this contract or purchase order, the publisher agrees to submit a valid NIMAS file set to the NIMAC at the American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. (APH). Should the vendor be a distributor of the materials and not the publisher, the distributor agrees to immediately notify the publisher of its obligation to submit NIMAS file sets of the purchased products to the NIMAC. This is page ___ of ___ of this contract or purchase order."

In lieu of, or in addition to choosing to participate in NIMAC, each LEA may contract with curriculum publishers directly to purchase accessible, student-ready versions. In most cases, however, you will find that publishers will not have such versions for sale.

Required Documentation

As part of the FY2007 Grant Assurances Document provided by all districts, there is an additional certification dealing with the NIMAS provisions of IDEA in "SECTION I" at I-5, entitled National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC). Your district is required to review this assurance, check YES or NO to indicate if you will "opt-in" to the NIMAC or provide materials in an alternate but timely manner, sign the assurance, and return it with your FY2007 grant application package.

For more information

  • We will provide additional details on the process of working with NIMAC in the fall of 2006-2007.
  • Learn more about NIMAS.
  • Learn more about the NIMAC.

Attachment: IDEA-Reauthorized Statute-National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)

Last Updated: May 16, 2006

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