To meet IDEA responsibilities related to the provision of accessible materials, Vermont adopts the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) for the purposes of providing instructional materials to blind persons or other persons with print disabilities, in a timely manner, after the publication of the NIMAS in the Federal Register in accordance with 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(23)(A).
As a requirement in your LEA’s IDEA grant application for SY2023-24, as part of your assurances, your LEA must ensure the timely delivery of accessible formats to students who are blind or have other print disabilities by either coordinating or not (opt-in or out) with the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC). While the requirement to meet NIMAS is not new, the VT Agency of Education (AOE) is required to collect whether LEA’s opt-in to NIMAC or opt-out and assume full responsibility.
As a requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) 2004, printed textbooks and other core printed materials used in elementary and secondary schools must be available in formats that can be used by all students in the classroom. The National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) is part of the solution for districts in obtaining these materials in formats that their students can use.
In instituting the NIMAC, the federal government created a standard file format, the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS), and required the states and local districts to work with textbook publishers to make these file formats available for conversion to systems actually used by children with print disabilities.
How do I get started?
When you file your IDEA grant application for SY2023-24, as part of your assurances, your LEA must ensure the timely delivery of accessible formats to students who are blind or have other print disabilities by either coordinating or not (opt in or out) with the NIMAC (National Instructional Materials Access Center). Your LEA may choose not to participate in the NIMAC. The AOE strongly suggest that you do not opt-out. Districts that do not participate are required to submit a detailed plan to the Agency of Education indicating how they will establish a workflow for scanning print materials and producing, or otherwise obtaining audiobooks, Braille, large print and other appropriate specialized formats in a timely manner.
LEAs that opt into the NIMAC agree to do two things:
- They agree to include NIMAS language (see below) in their print book adoption contracts and purchase agreements requiring publishers to submit NIMAS files to the NIMAC.
- They agree to abide by the limitations set out in IDEA 2004 regarding NIMAS use and student eligibility.
Per IDEA Grant requirements, LEAs will submit to the Agency of Education a record as to whether the LEA will opt-in to NIMAC or will opt out of NIMAC and assume full responsibility for producing and delivering specialized formats. For school year 2023-2024, NIMAC coordination agreement or opt out disclosure LEAs will reply directly to the Agency of Education. For all future school years, the option to opt-in or out will be selected in the Grants Management System(GMS).
What do I need to do with my textbook orders?
When your district submits its order for textbooks, it is recommended that the following language be included in the contract:
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 [month/day/year] a NIMAS file set to the NIMAC that complies with the terms and procedures set forth by the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) (IDEA Title I, Part D, sec. 674(e)). The publisher also agrees to mark up materials eligible for NIMAS submission that contain mathematical and scientific instructional content by using the MathML modular extension of the DAISY/NIMAS Structure Guidelines, as posted and maintained at the DAISY Consortium website (refer to the latest applicable version). 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 materials to the NIMAC. The files will be used for the production of accessible formats as permitted under the law for eligible students (IDEA Title I, Part B, sec. 612(a)).
When your book order includes this statement, the publisher will make a NIMAS file set available to the NIMAC for each textbook ordered. While having the file sets in the NIMAC will permit your district to access the remainder of this procedure for your students, there is nothing to prevent you from purchasing, directly from the publisher, textbooks in alternate formats for your students. The NIMAC becomes important when those formats are not available directly from the publishers.
Who is eligible to receive alternative texts from the NIMAC?
Unfortunately, NIMAC texts are not available to every student who is struggling with reading. The Library of Congress regulations (36 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 701.6(b)(1)) related to the Act to Provide Books for the Adult Blind provide that "blind persons or other persons with print disabilities" include:
(a) 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.
(b) Persons whose visual disability, with correction and regardless of optical measurement, is certified by competent authority as preventing the reading of standard printed material.
(c) Persons certified by competent authority as unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations.
(d) 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.
"Competent authority" is defined in 36 CFR 701.6(b)(2) as follows:
(i) In cases of blindness, visual disability, or physical limitations: doctors of medicine, doctors of osteopathy, ophthalmologists, optometrists, registered nurses therapists and professional staff of hospitals, institutions and public or welfare agencies (e.g., social workers, case workers, counselors, rehabilitation teachers and superintendents).
(ii) In the case of a reading disability from organic dysfunction: doctors of medicine who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines.
- The NIMAC applies only to textbooks published after 2006. Publishers do not have to go back and create NIMAS files for older texts. However, the U.S. Department of Education has provided guidance that “published” in this context refers to each sale of print instructional materials. Therefore, the requirement to create NIMAS files is applicable to all new contracts for the sale of print instructional materials since July 19, 2006, regardless of when the materials were first published.
- Publishers still retain copyright protection for their written material. The law was not intended to circumvent copyright and provide materials to children not covered under the law. It will be your responsibility to ensure that this does not happen in your district.
- For school year 2023-2024, LEAs must reply directly to the Agency of Education regarding NIMAC coordination agreement or opt-out disclosure.
For any questions, please contact Ana.Russo@vermont.gov