Textbooks in Alternate Format: P-12 Standards
In the most recent reauthorization of IDEA (2004) a provision was added to ease the problem of procuring textbooks in alternate formats. Called the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS), this provision was clarified in 2006 in Section 300.172 in the Final Regulations for the implementation of IDEA 2004. The NIMAS standards guide publishers in producing digital versions of textbooks that can be easily converted to accessible formats such as braille, audio, e-text, and/or large print (CAST, 2006). Publishers are now required to use these standards when preparing source files for textbooks and need to provide these files when requested by state and local education agencies.
The regulations also reaffirm the responsibilities of state and local education agencies to provide students who have print disabilities with alternate-format versions of textbooks in a timely manner. “The SEA [State Education Agency] must ensure that all public agencies take all reasonable steps to provide instructional materials in an accessible format to children with disabilities who need those instructional materials at the same time as other children receive instructional materials.”
K-12 textbook publishers are now required to prepare NIMAS files sets for deposit in a national repository of digital materials (CAST, 2006). Known as the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), the repository is housed at the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Kentucky. The IDEA 2004 regulations require that state education agencies either coordinate with the NIMAC or provide alternate format materials in some other way. All 50 states have decided to work with the NIMAC. NIMAC will provide states and local education agencies with textbook files that follow the NIMAS standard and therefore, should be easily converted to “student ready” alternate formats.
Reference: CAST (2006). About NIMAS. http://nimas.cast.org/about/index.html