Accessible Instructional Materials
About Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)
Provisions for accessible instructional materials have been incorporated into individualized education plans for many years. Accessible materials are generally discussed in terms of four types of specialized formats:
- Digital text
Changes in the latest revision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) have heightened awareness of the importance of accessible materials. This legislation resulted in the creation of the National Instructional Materials Accessiblity Standard and a new resource for local education agencies to acquire accessible materials for certain eligible students.
National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)
The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) was created in the latest reauthorization of IDEA. NIMAS refers to an extensible markup language (XML) protocol that publishers apply when developing filesets. These XML files are one means for creating specialized formats of core instructional materials. Specialized formats as discussed in IDEA include braille, large-print, audio, and digital text. NIMAS files are submitted by publishers to the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) and made available for conversion into specialized formats for eligible students.
Students eligible for files generated from the NIMAC are those defined under the Copyright Act of 1931 as Amended (2 U.S.C. 135a; 46 Stat. 1487) and the Chafee Amendment. Specifically, access is granted to those students who are "Blind or other persons with print disabilities" who are also served with an individualized education plan (IEP).
Access to Accessible Material in a Timely Manner
Access to accessible materials has been part of legislation from the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 through IDEA 2004. Each of these laws discusses the provision of accessible materials in a "timely manner". In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the definition of "timely manner" has been specifically provided in Chapter 14 (§ 14.106) and Chapter 711 (§ 711.45).
(d) Receipt of a portion of the instructional materials in alternate accessible or specialized format shall be considered receipt in a timely manner if the material received covers the chapters that are currently being taught in the student’s class.
||(e) If a child who is blind or other person with a print disability enrolls in school after the start of the school year, a charter school or cyber charter school shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the student has access to accessible format instructional materials within 10 school days from the time it is determined that the child requires printed instructional materials in an alternate accessible or specialized format.
National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)
The National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) is a national repository of NIMAS filesets. Files are added to the NIMAC upon request by local education agencies. Requests to create and deposit the NIMAS filesets are included on purchase orders for core instructional materials. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, agencies that are ordering core instructional materials are directed to use the following language to make such a request:
||"By agreeing to deliver the materials marked with "NIMAS" on this contract or purchase order, the publisher agrees to prepare and submit, on or before ___/___/____, a NIMAS file set to the NIMAC that complies with the terms and procedures set forth by the NIMAC. 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. The files will be used for the production of alternate formats as permitted under the law for students with print disabilities. This is page __ of __ of this contract or purchase order."
School districts are encouraged to request the NIMAS fileset when ordering core instructional materials even if an eligible student has not yet been identified as needing those files. By making the request, school districts can help to build the NIMAC library and ensure faster delivery of materials when they are needed. Districts in need of accessible materials for an eligible student can make a request to the NIMAC. Pennsylvania's Authorized User, Cathy Nadberazny, will then authorize the creation of the specialized formats through Accessible Material Producers (AMPs).