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Fall 2005 Table of Contents
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Department of Education Proposes Rules for NIMAS

Excerpted from the Federal Register Announcement

Abstract: U.S. Department of Education proposes establishment of National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) as required under IDEIA.

Key Words:News & Views, National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard, NIMAS, blind, visually impaired, deafblind, Braille, large print

On June 29, 2005, the Department of Education proposed to establish the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. The purpose of NIMAS is to help increase the availability and timely delivery of print instructional materials in accessible formats to blind or other persons with print disabilities in elementary and secondary schools.

The adoption of NIMAS is expected to be highly valuable to students who are blind or who have print disabilities because they will have access to accessible versions of textbooks in a timely manner. Current methods of converting print textbooks into Braille and other specialized formats are complex and time consuming, and the process can take months to complete. In many cases students who are blind or who have print disabilities now receive accessible textbooks and other instructional materials well after the beginning of the instructional period. The adoption of the NIMAS will improve both the speed of the process and the quality and consistency of books converted into specialized formats.

Currently states use electronic files from publishers of educational materials to produce accessible versions (e.g., Braille or digital audio) of these materials or contract to have accessible versions produced from these files. Because States have different requirements for these electronic files, however, publishers often experience increased costs for production, and States experience delays and inconsistencies in the materials produced.

To address these concerns, the Department funded the National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC) at the Center on Applied Special Technologies, Inc. (CAST) to establish technical specifications for a voluntary national instructional materials accessibility standard. The panel developed, with consensus, a common standard for digital source files that can be used to accurately and reliably produce instructional materials in a variety of alternate formats using the same source file. This standard, known as the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS, version 1.0), provides a single, uniform format that can be used for the electronic files associated with instructional materials. The Department announced the establishment of the NIMAS as a voluntary standard on July 27, 2004. Additional information on the standard and the expert panel's report is available at http://nimas.cast.org/about/index.html.

This notice proposes to establish the NIMAS and a separate rulemaking proceeding will be conducted to require States to adopt the standard. The notice proposes to establish NIMAS in the regulations by adding an appendix that will set forth the technical elements and specifications for the standard.

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Last Revision: September 1, 2010