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What is the National instructional Materials Standard (NIMAS)?

NIMAS is a technical standard used by publishers to prepare “electronic files” of print and certain digital materials that can then be converted to alternate formats for use by students with disabilities. NIMAS files are source files used in the production of braille, large print, digital rights to their textbooks and related core print materials and a copyright exemption allows them to deliver the electronic content of a textbook and related core print materials to the text, and other accessible formats. These files are not directly distributed to students but make it possible for students who require an accessible format to receive it in a timely manner. Certain print and digital instructional materials are covered by the NIMAS. IDEA 2004 indicates that the term "print instructional materials" includes 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 Education Agency or a Local Education Agency for use by students. In May of 2020, the U.S. Department of Education clarified that the term ‘‘print instructional materials,’’ with regard to the scope of NIMAS in IDEA 2004, includes digital instructional materials if those materials can be produced in valid NIMAS format. More information about digital instructional materials and NIMAS can be found at the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials website. 

The NIMAS applies to instructional materials published on or after 7/19/06 Eligibility for NIMAS: Includes (a) students with an Individual Education Program (IEP) and (b) the student must have a qualifying disability (IDEA 2004, Part D, Section 674 (e)(3)(A)). An “eligible person,” is defined as someone who is blind; has a visual impairment or perceptual or reading disability that cannot be improved to give visual function substantially equivalent to that of a person who has no such impairment or disability and so is unable to read printed works to substantially the same degree as a person without an impairment or disability; or is otherwise unable, through physical disability, to hold or manipulate a book or to focus or move the eyes to the extent that would be normally acceptable for reading. Eligibility must be certified by one of the following: doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, ophthalmologist, optometrist, psychologist, registered nurse, therapist, and professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (such as teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI), a social worker, case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, certified reading specialist, school psychologist, superintendent, or librarian).


What is the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)?

The National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) is a federally funded, searchable online file repository of K-12 print textbook content in the XML-based National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) format. Created under IDEA 2004, the NIMAC receives source files in NIMAS format from textbook publishers and makes these files available for download to Authorized Users in the United States and its territories through an online database. Once downloaded, files can be used to create a variety of specialized formats, such as screen enlargement, braille, audio, or digital text, on behalf of qualifying blind, visually impaired or print-disabled students in elementary or secondary school. The NIMAC is operated by the American Printing House for the Blind. Please visit the National Center on Assessible Educational Materials website for the complete legislative language in IDEA 2004 regarding the NIMAC,  Learn more about NIMAC from the NIMAC. Learn about the Spring 2021 updates from NIMAC. 

Colorado NIMAC Authorized Users for NIMAS Source Files

As of July 2009, the State of Colorado has three designated authorized users who may access NIMAS source files from the NIMAC: (1) The Colorado Instructional Materials Center (CIMC), (2) Bookshare, and (3) Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D). The three entities are the only designated authorized users of the NIMAC for Colorado. As such, the CIMC, Bookshare and RFB&D can download the NIMAS files housed with NIMAC. These files will then be used to prepare screen enlargement, braille, digitized text, and audiobooks for use by qualified students.

The Colorado Instructional Materials Center (CIMC) provides braille textbooks as well as instructional aids to Colorado students who are blind/visually impaired and are enrolled in Colorado's pre-K - 12 schools. The CIMC maintains an annual registration of Colorado students with visual impairments and registers those students who are legally blind with the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). The CIMC is able to purchase books through funds provided by the Colorado Department of Education, Colorado administrative units, and the APH Federal Quota Registry. Only certified teachers of students with visual impairments working in Colorado administrative units can order braille textbooks on behalf of the Colorado Instructional Materials Center.

Bookshare™ is an online library of digital books for people who are blind/visually impaired or have other print disabilities. Bookshare Members download books, textbooks and newspapers in a compressed, encrypted file such as DAISY (digital text combined with computer-generated speech) or BRF (Braille Ready Format*). They then read the material using adaptive technology, typically software that reads the book aloud (text-to-speech) and/or displays the text of the book on a computer screen, or Braille access devices, such as refreshable Braille displays. Through a current award from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Bookshare offers free memberships to U.S. schools and qualifying U.S. students. Students with visual impairments, a physical disability, or a reading disability such as dyslexia are eligible for membership if certified by a qualified professional. Schools or administrative units sign up their students and staff members at the school download books for students. Students can also have individual memberships and download on their own. Complete information about professionals who can provide certification and signing up for membership is available on the Bookshare site.

*Braille Ready Format files should not be ordered through Bookshare unless the person who is ordering the book is a Colorado certified teacher of students with visual impairments and/or a Colorado administrative unit braillist. This policy is to ensure that the individual receiving the file has the needed full Braille competency to ensure that the Braille product is of high quality.

Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind) serves Kindergarten-Grade 12, college and graduate students, veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom cannot read standard print due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities. Learning Ally’s has an extensive collection of digitally recorded textbooks and literature titles that are downloadable and accessible on mainstream as well as specialized assistive technology devices.

Resource Documents

For more information, please contact:

Tanni Anthony, Ph.D., Colorado State NIMAC Coordinator
Phone: (303) 503-4647

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