Discussion of NIMAS and NIMAC
This message was posted by efrerichs on Jul 20, 2009.
I am a long time AT specialist who continues to be befuddled by NIMAS/ NIMAC and many of the things that are supposed to provide access to students. I find a lot of law and theory, and yet find myself doing a ton of scanning, editing, modifying, printing, converting to mp3, etc. every year. I look forward to getting some clarification on how this whole process works and possibly streamlining my "request to student time-line"!
I'd be happy to help you streamline your "request to student time-line." First suggestion: have you tried to access materials from Bookshare or RFBD (Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic) instead of scanning them yourself? If so, do you still finding yourself doing some of the "cleaning up" of books or reformatting? I'd like to hear from you and others what is working and what isn't. Maybe together we can brainstorm some more workable solutions.
I have had limited success with RFBD due to the need for managing memberships and paperwork and materials etc. for 14 schools. Does the money come from each school or the central budget, what about the library budget? Where are the materials housed? If the LD teacher takes responsibility for the membership what happens when she leaves the district? I know these seem like whiny questions and simple organizational issues, but as the AT specialist for a decent sized district it is just a logistical disaster. In addition, although I believe they are moving towards e-text, they are still audio based, and I find that many students benefit from seeing the text highlighted etc. as it is read. Although Bookshare is expanding by leaps and bounds I have found that many of my text book requests were not in the library yet, and could not be completed in a timely manner. (Prior to the Bookshare access I won't even comment about trying to reach an "AU.") Bookshare and other books that are heavily text based are fine for downloading just text files, but for books that rely heavily on pictures and graphics, I find it just as easy to use my handy dandy Fujitsu scanner and make a full e-copy. Then, once I have it, it's done! Fortunately a couple of the books I have needed at the high school level have had fairly accessible full online copies!!! Whoo hoo! eileen
Oh, and yes, I do find errors in Bookshare documents on occasion, although it is getting much, much better!
Thank you for sharing your experiences - the good and the bad - with obtaining accessible instructional materials. I agree that at this point there are still many hoops to jump through to get the materials our students need in a timely manner. Our digital media producers (Bookshare and RFBD, etc.) are working very hard to improve their services and your input helps them better understand what improvements need to be made. I believe that sometimes scanning materials may be the most appropriate way to provide equivalent and appropriate access to the curriculum - your example of books that reply heavily on graphics and pictures is a prime example of this. Taking advantage of all the technologies and methods at our disposal is a very practical approach to getting fully accessible textbooks into the hands of our students!
I am really befuddled .... I do not know what NIMAS/NIMAC stands for. Could someone enlighten me on the terms they represent? Thanks
The NIMAS is the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard - a set of accessibility criteria and tags - that are used by publishers to create a single electronic source file of a print-based material (such as a textbook) that can be transformed into specialized formats of that material. The four formats are Braille, Large Print, Audio, and Digital (of course, ALL start out as a digital SOURCE file...the formats refer to STUDENT-READY versions of the material... what the student actually uses... the SAME CONTENT...the content in the print-based book, the same content in braille, the same content in large print, and so on.) The NIMAC is the National Accessible Instructional Materials Access Center is, basically, the "library" where publishers deposit source files marked up to the standard so that they can be downloaded, converted, and obtained by schools for students with print-related disabilities who are served under IDEA and eligible for that source under copyright law. We will talk more about eligibility later on, but let me say at this point, that there is a difference between NEEDING instructional materials in accessible formats and being eligible to receive those materials from any particular source. The NIMAC is an incredible source, but it is not the ONLY source.
Boy, you are quick Joy! Here's my attempt at explaining the two terms- When IDEA was reauthorized in 2004, a provision was added that established the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) and the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center (NIMAC). This was created to expedite the process of delivering accessible learning materials to students with print-related disabilities. Prior to this, there was no standard or standardized process of delivering instructional materials in accessible formats to students with disabilities in the U.S. NIMAS is an acronym for National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard, a technical standard used by publishers to produce source files that can be used to create specialized formats such as Braille , audio, e-text, or large print. NIMAS files are not “student ready” files. They must be converted into specialized formats for student use. Organizations such as Bookshare and RFBD (Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic have the authority to convert NIMAS files into student ready formats such as e-text and audio files). The NIMAC (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center) is a repository (virtual library) for the NIMAS files. In short,The NIMAC receives the NIMAS files from the textbook publishers. This doesn't happen automatically. Schools must request that the publishers send the files to the NIMAC. From there, NIMAS files are converted into student ready formats before being distributed to the schools and students. That is a somewhat simplified version of the process, if you can believe that, but it conveys the general process flow. Maybe Joy can clarify and elaborate further on this part. Each state can decide whether to coordinate with the NIMAC. If the state chooses not to, the state is still responsible for providing accessible print materials to students who require them, they will just need to come up with another means of providing them. As Joy stated, the NIMAC is a wonderful resource, but it definitely isn't the only place to find digital instructional materials.
Thank you for the information. I still have a question. I was looking at the list of states providing this service and noticed Florida is not in the list. What options do we have here in Florida? Also, I teach students with specific learning disabilities included in the general education classroom, and the greatest barrier they present is when reading content area (Science and Social Studies) textbooks because they have a reading difficulty. Are there any options for my students?
Yes, we also have many students who need content area read to them. In the past, I have contacted the publishers of the textbooks, and occasionally they have sent the text on CD. Then, I use it with a text reader (we use ReadPlease Plus). Not all textbooks will have this option for audio text, but most of the newer ones do. (The school district can then buy the audio version similar to buying another print copy.) Also, you can request the textbook from Bookshare; they will scan it and send it in audio form for use on the computer with their text reader downloaded. It's a free service.
Hi Grace, Thanks for the post, and I just have two points of clarification. Bookshare CAN accept requests to produce student-ready textbooks from teachers at schools that have organizational memberships. However, the request process will depend upon the state. In CA, CO, KS, MA, MD, MO, MT, NH, NY, OR, TN, VT, and Guam, Bookshare has been designated as an Authorized User of the NIMAC, meaning that upon request from a teacher, Bookshare can go into the NIMAC and prepare a textbook. However, in states where Bookshare is not yet an Authorized User, teachers must first contact an organization that is an Authorized User and ask that the request be assigned to Bookshare.
Yes, indeed! EVERY state is required by special education statute to provide specialized formats in a timely manner to student who require them. Access to information contained in textbooks across the curriculum are the prime targets of this legislation. Florida does have a NIMAS coordinator. There is a list a http://nimas.cast.org that should provide you with the information you need to contact the correct person.