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Special Education

Documenting Student Eligibility for Use of NIMAS Files

Use of NIMAS-based materials is limited to students with a documented print disability in their IEP plan. This qualifies them to access and use specialized formats under provisions of the Chafee Amendment to the Copyright Act. The amendment allows "authorized entities to reproduce or distribute copies of previously published non-dramatic literary works in specialized formats exclusively for use by persons with blindness or other disabilities."

As a result, school districts should keep on file documentation of students' eligibility to use NIMAS files. Proof of a student's disability should be certified by a qualified professional, as explained below. In order to request NIMAS materials from the Massachusetts Accessible Instructional Materials Library, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, or Bookshare, districts need to be able to certify the eligibility of students who will use the materials.

To be eligible to use NIMAS files, students must belong to at least one of the following groups:

  1. Blind persons whose visual acuity, as determined by competent authority, is 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting glasses, or whose widest diameter if visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees.
  2. Persons whose visual disability, with correction and regardless of optical measurement, is certified by competent authority as preventing the reading of standard printed material.
  3. Persons certified by competent authority as unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations.
  4. Persons certified by competent authority as having a reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction and of sufficient severity to prevent their reading printed material in a normal manner.

Student eligibility must be documented by a "competent authority," which the law defines as follows: In cases of blindness, visual disability, or physical limitations, competent authority is defined to include doctors of medicine, doctors of osteopathy, ophthalmologists, optometrists, registered nurses, therapists, professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (e.g., social workers, case workers, counselors, rehabilitation teachers, and superintendents). In the case of a reading disability from organic dysfunction, competent authority is defined as doctors of medicine who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines.

Note that students who have 504 plans (and not IEPs) are not eligible to use NIMAS-derived materials. However, students who have one or more of the disabilities listed above are eligible to use materials that were not produced using NIMAS files. The state-authorized providers may have non-NIMAS versions of the needed materials.

For More Information

Who Qualifies for Specialized Format Instructional Materials Created from NIMAS Source Files?

Last Updated: June 6, 2013

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