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NIMAS/NIMAC

  • NIMAS
    • What is the National instructional Materials Standard (NIMAS)?
      NIMAS is a technical standard used by publishers to produce source files (in XML) that may be used to develop multiple specialized formats (such as digitized text, braille, or audio books) for students who are blind/visually impaired or have print disabilities. The source files are prepared using eXtensible Mark-up Language (XML) to mark up the structure of the original content and provide a means for presenting the content in a variety of ways and styles. For example, once a NIMAS fileset has been produced, the XML and image source files may be used to create not only printed materials, but also screen enlargement, braille, large print, HTML, DAISY talking books using human voice or text-to-speech, audio files derived from text-to-speech transformations, and more.

      NIMAS is a technical standard used by publishers to produce source files (in XML) that may be used to develop multiple specialized formats (such as digitized text, braille, or audio books) for students who are blind/visually impaired or have print disabilities. The source files are prepared using eXtensible Mark-up Language (XML) to mark up the structure of the original content and provide a means for presenting the content in a variety of ways and styles. For example, once a NIMAS fileset has been produced, the XML and image source files may be used to create not only printed materials, but also screen enlargement, braille, large print, HTML, DAISY talking books using human voice or text-to-speech, audio files derived from text-to-speech transformations, and more.

      The separation of content from presentation is an important feature of the NIMAS approach. In most cases, a human will need to enhance the source files to provide additional features needed by diverse learners. The various specialized formats created from NIMAS filesets may then be used to support a very diverse group of learners who qualify as students with print disabilities. It is important to note that most elementary and secondary educational publishers do not own all of the electronic 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 NIMAC, a national repository which began operations on 12/3/06, as long as the publishers possess the print rights. The NIMAS applies to instructional materials published on or after 7/19/06.

  • NIMAC
    • What is the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)?
      The National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) is a federally-funded, national electronic file repository that makes National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) files available for the production of core print instructional materials in specialized formats. 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.

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 audio books 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) 866-6681


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