Guidance for Districts

Please reference DPI Bulletin 18-03 for more information

Guidance for the Implementation of National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)

A provision in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) establishes the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) [34 CFR 300.172(a)(1).] The goal of NIMAS is to promote the development of high quality and consistent source files to be used to create specialized formats for students with print disabilities, including those who are blind and visually impaired. Students with print disabilities will receive their textbooks and core materials in the specialized format at the same time as students without print disabilities.

In addition, it is the responsibility of the district to ensure children with disabilities who need instructional materials in accessible formats, but are not included under the definition of blind or other persons with print disabilities or who need materials that cannot be produced from NIMAS files, receive those instructional materials in a timely manner [300.172(e)(1)(i).]

The U. S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has established a National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) at the American Printing House for the Blind, in order to create a national repository of NIMAS source files that can be converted into specialized formats (audio, Braille, large print, digital text or text to speech) for students who have print disabilities, including those who are blind or visually impaired. The responsibility of NIMAC is to receive files from the textbook publishers and maintain a catalog of these electronic files.

Students Eligible under NIMAS Regulations:

IEP (Individualized Education Program) Team

IEP teams make the decision concerning the need and the type of specialized format based on the evaluations of certified professionals and the individual needs of the student.

Others with Print Disabilities

Print disabled refers to a student’s inability to access ‘standard print format.’ Any specific diagnosis or disorder alone would not constitute an automatic consideration for ‘other print disabilities.’ The IEP team should consider if the student needs instructional materials in specialized format to meet their IEP goals and access the general curriculum.

Visual Impairment

Visual impairment means even after correction, a child’s visual functioning significantly adversely affects his or her educational performance. A certified teacher of the visually impaired conducts a functional vision evaluation which includes a review of medical information, formal and informal tests of visual functioning and the determination of the implications of the visual impairment on the educational and curricular needs of the child.


Statutory blindness is defined as visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a corrective lens, or a visual field limitation such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees as determined by competent authority.

Timely Manner

All students eligible for materials in a specialized format will receive them at the same time as their non-print disabled peers. In such cases of highly technical and/or a high number of tactile graphics, portions of the book will be produced in accordance with the ‘timely manner’ definition. ‘Timely manner’ production coincides with timely submission of requests.

All districts in Wisconsin have “opted in” with NIMAS and provide DPI with an annual assurance through the LLP process they will provide textbooks and other core materials in specialized formats to those students who need them.

Textbooks published on or after July 19, 2006 must meet NIMAS.  The district must request the publishers of textbooks and related core instructional materials to submit electronic files containing those instructional materials to the NIMAC.

Suggested language for contracts and purchase orders

“By agreeing to deliver the materials marked with “NIMAS” on this contract or purchase order, the publisher agrees to prepare and submit, on or before ___/___/_____ a NIMAS file set to the NIMAC that complies with the terms and procedures set forth by the NIMAC. The publisher also agrees to mark up materials eligible for NIMAS submission that contain mathematical and scientific instructional content by using the MathML3 (refer to latest applicable version) module of the DAISY/NIMAS Structure Guidelines as posted and maintained at the DAISY Consortium web site ( Should the vendor be a distributor of the materials and not the publisher, the distributor agrees to immediately notify the publisher of its obligation to submit NIMAS file sets of the purchased products to the NIMAC. The files will be used for the production of alternate formats as permitted under the law for students with print disabilities.”

Once the contractual or purchase order language is agreed upon by the district and publisher, the publisher must provide the files to NIMAC.

Please note that, in a letter dated June 22, 2012, the U.S. Department of Education encouraged SEAs and LEAs to ask publishers to also use the MathML3 Structure Guidelines recommended by the NIMAS Center, stating that these guidelines reflect the most effective method of providing accessible print instructional materials involving mathematical and scientific content to students who are blind or with print disabilities and do not conflict with the minimum requirements in the NIMAS.

It is important for districts to make selection of new textbooks before April 1 of each year to ensure timely delivery of textbooks in the appropriate format for the upcoming academic school year.

What are the LEA responsibilities?

Step 1

Textbook purchasing contracts contain language requesting the publisher prepare and submit files meeting NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard) requirements to the NIMAC (National Instructional Media Access Center).

Step 2

Individualized Education Program (IEP) team members make a determination regarding the students’ qualification as a student with a print disability and eligibility status to receive materials under NIMAS in specialized format(s).

If the student is determined ineligible to receive NIMAS materials, the team must determine other means of procuring necessary educational materials.

Step 3

IEP team members make the decision concerning the need and the type of specialized format(s) based on documented evaluations by certified professionals and the individual needs of the student.

Step 4

The Local Education Agency (LEA) completes the “Student Information Sheet” (providing eligibility documentation) annually for each student eligible to receive core instructional materials through the NIMAC and submits the completed form to Wisconsin Accessible Materials Productions (WAMP).

Forms, FAQ and related DPI Bulletins are available for download and/or electronic submission via the Outreach Portal.

Step 5

LEA completes and submits the “Book Request Form” detailing required textbooks, and related core materials in addition to format specifications to WAMP.

Step 6

WAMP personnel process the request and send the student-ready version in the requested format to the designated district.

If student is eligible and registered with the following entities, in some cases WAMP personnel may indicate that the district staff can download the file directly from either Bookshare and/or Learning Ally.

Step 7

LEA receives textbook(s) and related core materials in requested specialized format.  These materials are student specific, and under copyright law may be used only by the student for which the material was requested.