Federal laws (e.g., NCLB, IDEA), as well as those of many states, emphasize the rights of all students, especially those with disabilities, to access and make progress in the general curriculum. Yet for many students with disabilities, the extensive use of printed materials in most classrooms makes access to core curricular materials unlikely, if not impossible. This, in turn, raises significant barriers to standards-based learning for such students.
The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) helps facilitate timely access to alternate formats of instructional materials for students with visual impairments or other print disabilities. In a significant step forward for students with disabilities, the U.S. Congress adopted NIMAS (pronounced NYE-mas) as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004.
How does NIMAS work? When local or state education agencies (LEAs/SEAs) create purchase orders or adoption contracts for textbooks and related printed materials for the core curriculum, they may require publishers to submit standardized, electronic versions (NIMAS file sets) of those materials to a central repository—the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC)—housed at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). These NIMAS file sets can then be transformed by authorized users into specialized formats (e.g., braille, audio, etext, or large print) and distributed to students with print disabilities.
For more information about NIMAS, please visit the NIMAS website at: http://nimas.cast.org/. Highlighted below are links of specific interest on the NIMAS website.