Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to provide accessible versions of instructional materials to students who are blind or otherwise unable to use printed materials. Students with disabilities should receive materials in accessible formats at the same time as their peers receive their textbooks.
Instructional materials include textbooks and related core materials such as workbooks Accessible formats of instructional materials include Braille, large print, audio and digital text. Accessible instructional materials afford the flexibility to meet the needs of a broad range of students, even those without disabilities. For more information and resources about accessible formats, please review the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials.
The acronym NIMAS stands for the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard. It is a technical specification used by publishers, endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. NIMAS files are then sent to the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), as requested by a school district.
NIMAC is the repository where all NIMAS files are stored. It is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and was created through amendments adopted to IDEA. The purpose of NIMAC is to make it easier for districts to obtain materials for students with disabilities, and to do so in a more timely manner.
NIMAS files are not student-ready. Once a NIMAS file is downloaded from NIMAC by an authorized user, it must be transformed into the required accessible format for the student. NIMAC houses files for printed textbooks and related core instructional materials published primarily for use in elementary and secondary school instruction.
School districts should note that there is no obligation on the part of a publisher to create NIMAS files or upload them to NIMAC unless specific language is included in the contract/purchase agreement with publishers. The National Center on Accessible Educational Materials has a resource page for including language in contracts or purchase orders.
Anyone can search the NIMAC, but only authorized users (AUs) of NIMAC can download NIMAS files. New York’s AUs are the Resource Center for the Visually Impaired, Bookshare, and the New York City Department of Education.
NIMAC relies on an exemption to copyright law, and as such materials are only available to elementary and secondary students who are blind, visually impaired, have a physical disability, or have a reading disability resulting from an organic dysfunction. In addition, these students must have an individualized education program (IEP).
Students who have a 504 plan are not allowed to use materials from NIMAC. Only students with a qualifying disability and an IEP can use these materials.
School districts are responsible for providing accessible instructional materials to students with disabilities who need them, regardless of whether the students are eligible for materials from NIMAC. Schools can purchase accessible materials directly from the publisher, make their own or use materials in the public domain.
School districts should note that all students can access materials purchased directly from publishers or through other commercial options.
The Federal Act to Promote the Education of the Blind was enacted by Congress in 1879. This act is a means for providing adapted educational materials to eligible individuals. The annual registration form is for individuals who are legally blind and newly enrolled in your school/agency by January 1, 2022. Please do not re-register an individual if he/she was previously registered by you or another school/agency unless the individual is new to your school/agency prior to January 1, 2022.