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What is the National instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)?
The National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) is a federally funded, searchable online repository of digital source files for K-12 instructional materials. Created under IDEA 2004, the NIMAC receives files in NIMAS format from textbook publishers and makes these files available for download to Authorized Users in the United States and its territories.
Once downloaded, files can be used to create a variety of specialized formats, such as large print, braille, digital audio, or digital text, on behalf of qualifying students who are blind, visually impaired or print-disabled in elementary or secondary school. The NIMAC is housed at the American Printing House for the Blind. For more information, visit the NIMAC's website or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The National AER Center provides information on the complete language in IDEA 2004 related to NIMAS and NIMAC.
Under IDEA 2004, working with the NIMAC is optional for states and districts. However, all states and eligible territories have chosen to work with the repository.
States and districts that choose to work with the NIMAC are required under the law to include language in their instructional materials contracts requiring the publisher to send NIMAS files to the NIMAC. For more information, see the NIMAS Contract Language Handout section below.
What is the National Instructional Materials Standards (NIMAS)?
NIMAS is the national source file format created by IDEA 2004 for use in the production of accessible formats, such as braille, large print, and digital text, for K-12 instructional materials.
Publishers submit files in the NIMAS format to the NIMAC in accordance with state and district procurement contracts. Designated users in the states can then download the files for use in producing accessible formats on behalf of qualifying students.
NIMAS files require further conversion work before use. They are not distributed directly to students but make it possible for students who require an accessible format to receive it in a timely manner.
The NIMAC receives a wide range of student-facing instructional materials. Under IDEA 2004, states and districts can require NIMAS from publishers for “textbooks and related printed core materials.” This means materials written and published primarily for use in elementary school and secondary school instruction and required by a State Education Agency or a Local Education Agency for use by students in the classroom. Some materials, such as trade books (e.g., novels), are exempt from NIMAS requirements.
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. For more information, visit the NIMAS and Digital Materials FAQ on the NIMAC’s website or the Notice of Interpretation FAQ from the National AEM Center.
Eligibility for NIMAS: Under IDEA 2004 Part D, Section 674 (e)(3)(A), to qualify for materials produced with NIMAS files, students must have both an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and a qualifying disability under the eligibility guidelines of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS):
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).
NIMAS Contract Language Handout
The NIMAC supports students with disabilities by helping ensure that an accessible format can be produced when a need is identified. When files in NIMAS format are received from publishers, these files can be used to produce formats like braille, EPUB, DAISY, and large print.
As mentioned above, all states and districts that coordinate with the NIMAC are obligated under IDEA 2004 to require publishers to send files to the NIMAC when they purchase instructional materials. This concise handout can be distributed to local or state-level procurement staff to ensure that this specific language is embedded in publisher contracts.
Although the NIMAC can and does request materials from publishers when a request is received from a user for material not yet in the repository, the NIMAC itself does not have the authority to require NIMAS from any publisher. The state’s or district’s purchase contract for the material is the only mechanism under IDEA 2004 to require that files be sent to the NIMAC.
States and districts have been able to require NIMAS in their instructional materials contracts since July of 2006.
Colorado NIMAC Authorized Users for NIMAS Source Files
Updated as of November 2023, the State of Colorado has three designated Authorized Users who may access NIMAS source files from the NIMAC: (1) the American Printing House for the Blind (APH); (2) Bookshare, and (3) the Colorado Instructional Materials Center (CIMC).
These three entities are the only designated Authorized Users of the NIMAC for Colorado. As such, APH, Bookshare, and the CIMC, can download the NIMAS files housed with NIMAC or assign the files to accessible media producers (AMPs). These files will then be used to prepare large print, braille, digital text, and digital audio for use by qualified students.
Please note: Braille Ready Format (BRF) files should not be ordered through any authorized user unless the person who is ordering the book is a Colorado licensed 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.
American Printing House for the Blind: Since 1858, The American Printing House for the Blind has operated in Louisville, Kentucky as the world’s largest nonprofit organization creating accessible learning experiences through educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are blind and low vision.
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 sign up for membership is available on the Bookshare site.
*Braille Ready Format (BRF) 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.
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 program. 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.
For more information, please contact:
Tanni Anthony, Ph.D., Colorado State NIMAC Coordinator
Phone: (303) 503-4647
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