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How Can NIMAS Help Students with Print Disabilities?

books graphic

Do you have a student who needs access to their textbooks in a different format so they can learn as independently as possible in a manner that suits their needs?  If so, the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) just might help!

What is NIMAS?

NIMAS is a technical standard for developing accessible K-12 instructional materials.  It states that all books published after August 18, 2006, must be produced in the NIMAS format in addition to printed versions. This standard was put in place by policy makers to assure that “qualifying students with disabilities receive textbooks and other important materials in an accessible format at the same time as their fellow students.”

Who qualifies?

Qualifying students include those who have;

  • blindness,
  • visual impairment ,
  • physical disabilities that prevents turning the printed page, and
  • reading disorders caused by organic (physical) dysfunction.

So how does the student get the book in a format they need?

When a “publisher creates a NIMAS fileset for a textbook or other print material and deposits the fileset in the NIMAC (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center), that fileset can be converted into student-ready specialized formats, such as braille, large print, audio, or digital text”.  If a qualifying student needs a book in an audio format, for example, a school district would contact their state’s NIMAC authorized user to inquire.  The National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials has produced a workflow chart to illustrate how this process works.  It is available in an accessible format here.  

In ND, our NIMAC authorized user is the North Dakota Vision Services School for the Blind (NDVS/SB).  According to the NDVS/SB, their “staff can search the NIMAC database for availability of materials or a request may be made to have a fileset created. This part of the process is done free of charge, but it is important to note that the cost of creating large print or braille materials that are properly formatted, may cost the local education agency/school to have it produced. NDVS/SB can help local agencies/schools identify accessible media producers if needed.” Lori Foley is currently the coordinator for this program: 1-800-421-1181 or llfoley@nd.gov.

Where can I find more information?

For more information on NIMAS in North Dakota contact:

Lynn Dodge, Ed. D., at ldodge@nd.gov or 701-328-4564 or visit the Department of Public Instruction’s website.  Dr. Dodge has also created a powerpoint presentation and video regarding NIMAS on their webpage.


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