Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)
Accessible instructional materials (AIM) are printed textbooks and educational materials that are converted to alternate formats, such as Braille, large print, electronic text, and audio recordings, which are requested by a local school division for use by students with disabilities in the classroom. Under IDEA, all states are required to adopt and use the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) when producing accessible instructional materials for students who are blind or who have other print disabilities. NIMAS is a technical standard used by publishers to produce source files that may be used to develop multiple specialized formats for instructional use.
Clarification of Student Eligibility Requirements for AIM-VA Services (PDF) – information for implementing procedures to obtain alternate formats of instructional materials for students with print disabilities.
While IDEA requires all state educational agencies (SEAs) to adopt NIMAS, SEAs and local education agencies (LEAs) may choose whether to coordinate with the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), a national repository.
VDOE, through George Mason University, has created the Accessible Instructional Materials Center of Virginia (AIM-VA) to produce and provide – at no cost to school divisions – accessible instructional and educational materials meeting NIMAS requirements for blind students and those with print disabilities. These materials include core instructional materials, trade books, reading interventions, test preparation materials, etc. in accessible digital formats.
To create a single point of access and to facilitate required federal data collection and reporting, all accessible instructional materials requested from AIM-VA and their partners should be ordered through the online library catalog.
- NIMAS Development and Technical Assistance Center @ CAST
- Accessible Instructional Materials Center Consortium
- Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic
To implement an integrated statewide system for accessible instructional materials in the form of a lending library, AIM-VA has partnered with accessible media producers (AMP). The partners and the materials they produce are as follows:
- Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic Regional Unit of the Virginias and Carolinas (RFB&D) – digital audio books including more than 10,000 current titles.
- Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI) – Braille materials
- Virginia Correctional Enterprises (VCE)
- Bookshare – Braille, large print or digital formats for text-to-speech audio including more than 36,050 books and 150 periodicals; the digital formats are the NISO/DAISY XML-based format for the next generation of talking books, and the BRF format for Braille devices and printers
- Equipment, software and conversion consultants
- National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards (NIMAS) – a technical standard used by publishers to produce source files to develop multiple specialized formats for students with print disabilities.
Using extensible markup language (XML), source files are prepared by separating the content from presentation structure of the original content and providing a means of presenting the content in a variety of ways and styles. For example, once a NIMAS file set has been produced for printed materials, the XML and image source files may be used to create Braille, large print, HTML versions, Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) talking books using human voice or text-to-speech, audio files derived from text-to-speech transformations, and more.
Most elementary and secondary educational publishers do not own all of the electronic rights to their textbooks and related core print materials. A copyright exemption allows them to deliver the electronic content of a textbook and the related core print materials to the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), a national repository which began operations on 12/3/06, as long as the publishers possess the print rights.
- National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) – a central repository for NIMAS files.
Using an automated system, publishers can deposit NIMAS files within the repository where they will be checked for validity and cataloged into a web-based database. Authorized users can search the NIMAC database and directly download files necessary to convert instructional materials for students who have qualifying disabilities.
Virginia participates in the NIMAC and partners with organizations selected by VDOE to assist in converting educational materials into alternate formats. These partners include AIM-VA at George Mason University, Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic, Bookshare.com and Virginia Correctional Enterprises.
Summary of IDEA Legislation for Accessible Instructional Materials
The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) is the standard established by the U.S. Secretary of Education to be used in the preparation of electronic files suitable and used solely for efficient conversion into specialized formats for students who are blind or print disabled. NIMAS, published in 2006, is a file set that includes all information typically prepared for publishing, including metadata, images and text, and is used to produce accessible instructional materials for students who are blind or who have other print disabilities. Under IDEA, all state educational agencies (SEAs) must adopt NIMAS; however, SEAs and local education agencies (LEAs) may choose whether to coordinate with the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), a national repository.
- Provide definitions related to purchase of and access to instructional materials. Federal regulations, under the IDEA, require accessible instructional materials for all children whose IEP teams have certified that the child needs print materials in an accessible format in order to deliver a Free and Appropriate Public Education.
- Requires states to adopt NIMAS and establish a definition of "timely manner."
- Establishes states rights and responsibilities to provide instructional materials to blind persons or other persons with print disabilities in a timely manner either in coordination with the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center (NIMAC) or a source approved by USED
- Establishes requirements for the preparation and delivery of files.
- Requires collaboration with state agencies to providing assistive technology programs.
- Establishes responsibilities of LEAs for purchase of instructional materials.
- National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) – Topic document from USED’s Office of Special Education Programs
- Questions & Answers on the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards (NIMAS)