Where are AIM Acquired?
Table of Contents
- Overview: Decision Point Three: Acquisition
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- AIM Center Resources for Acquisition
Overview: Decision Point Three: Acquisition
After establishing that a student needs accessible instructional materials (AIM) and selecting which formats are needed for what materials, the decision-making team determines how and where to acquire the materials. There are a variety of sources for acquiring accessible instructional materials; however, not all students are eligible to receive materials from each of the different sources. Keep in mind that many students may need more than one specialized format and may need materials from more than one source.
There are five basic sources which include the following:
- The NIMAC: The National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) is the national repository for NIMAS source files provided by publishers. Only students who are dually qualified under IDEA and copyright law are eligible to receive specialized formats created from NIMAS-conformant files from the NIMAC.
- AMPs: Accessible media producers (AMPs) create and provide student-ready specialized formats to two groups of students. Materials produced by AMPs are available to students or others who meet copyright criteria. Only those students who are dually qualified (meet copyright criteria and are served under IDEA) are eligible for specialized formats created from NIMAS filesets obtained from the NIMAC.
- Commercial Sources: Some instructional materials can be purchased in accessible formats from publishers and other sources (e.g., Audible.com). Materials acquired via purchase from a commercial source can be used by any student. This source should be used when it is available.
- Free Sources: Some accessible materials are available free-of-charge from various sources, frequently via the Internet. These materials are typically copyright-free or open source. Materials acquired from free sources can be used by any student. With the exception of open source materials, commercially prepared textbooks are not available in this category.
- “Locally Created”: Some instructional materials are not available in accessible formats from any other source and others are not published (e.g., teacher-developed materials). Accessible versions of these materials must be locally created through the use of scanning or other means. When accessible versions of copyrighted materials are created locally, compliance with and respect for copyright law is required. These materials are created on a student-by-student basis for a specific student only. Publisher permission should be requested.
Select from the following options to determine the sources that can be used to acquire materials for the student.
- Student meets copyright criteria for specialized formats and is served in special education under IDEA.
This student is eligible for specialized formats acquired from all five sources: NIMAC, AMPs, commercial sources, free sources, and, under some circumstances, “locally created.”
- Student meets copyright criteria for specialized formats but is not served under IDEA.
This student is eligible for specialized formats acquired from AMPs, commercial sources, free sources, and, under some circumstances, “locally created.”
- Student does not meet copyright criteria for specialized formats.
This student is eligible for specialized formats acquired from commercial sources, free sources, and, under some circumstances, “locally created.”
If the decision-making team needs more support in order to make an informed decision, the frequently asked questions (FAQ) section that follows includes in-depth background information about each source mentioned above, types of materials typically available, and a description of who is eligible to receive such materials. Once it has been determined which sources to use to acquire materials, district personnel should proceed according to district and/or state procedures for procurement.
There are different interpretations of the legal issues; when questions arise, educators, students, and families should contact their district administrators and/or state NIMAS contact designee. For a list of state contacts, refer to the Primary Contacts for NIMAS/NIMAC page on the AIM Center web site.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The following frequently asked questions (FAQ) section provides detailed information and resources about the acquisition process and who is eligible for materials obtained from what sources. For more information about other steps of the decision-making process, please visit the related sections of All About AIM. Additionally, the AIM Navigator is an online process facilitator which contains in-depth information, scaffolded supports, and extensive resources to guide the decision-making process.
What is the NIMAC?
IDEA mandated the establishment of the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) as a national repository for publisher source filesets of textbooks and related core printed materials that are created according to the technical specification included in the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard, commonly known by the acronym NIMAS. The NIMAC has been established by the American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. (APH) in Louisville, Kentucky.
When a publisher creates a NIMAS fileset for a textbook or other print material and deposits the fileset in the NIMAC, that fileset can be converted into student-ready specialized formats, such as braille, large print, audio, or digital text.
It must be remembered that NIMAS filesets have to be converted to student-ready specialized formats and that specialized formats created from filesets housed in the NIMAC can only be used by dually qualified students. A student must be served under IDEA and meet copyright criteria for specialized formats to use materials created from NIMAS source files from the NIMAC.
Additional information on the NIMAC is available at the NIMAC web site (http://www.nimac.us/) and at the AIM Center web site in a FAQ (http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/federal/faq) about NIMAS and the NIMAC.
What are AMPs?
Accessible media producers, frequently called AMPs, are agencies, organizations, or companies that produce instructional materials in specialized formats such as braille, large print, audio, or digital text.
Most materials produced by AMPs are available to students or others who meet copyright criteria for specialized formats. Only those students who are dually qualified (meet copyright criteria and are served under IDEA) are eligible for specialized formats created from NIMAS filesets obtained from the NIMAC.
Two AMPs—Bookshare and the American Printing House for the Blind—receive considerable federal funding that enables them to provide specialized formats free of charge or at a very low cost to qualified students. A third AMP, Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic) also provides materials across the country for a fee. Please refer to the AIM Guide to Accessible Media Producers (http://aim.cast.org/learn/practice/acquisitiondistribution/aim_amp_guide) on the AIM Center web site for detailed information.
What commercial sources of AIM are available?
Commercial sources include publishers and other companies or organizations that create and provide some AIM formats for sale. Some publishers provide accessible CDs or online versions along with or as an alternative to printed textbooks. When purchasing these materials it is important to ensure that the information is exactly the same as in printed versions of the materials and to determine the features that make them accessible to some students (e.g., contains digital text that can be read aloud). Remember that not all CDs or digital materials are accessible. As general publishing becomes increasingly digital, the expectation is that educational publishers will embrace a market model and design accessibility features into all products. Those materials can be sold to SEAs and LEAs for use by any student. Through the market model, SEAs and LEAs can acquire and provide accessible materials to any student who may need them or prefer them without concern for qualification issues.
There are also other commercial sources that provide materials in formats that may meet the accessibility requirements for some students (e.g., audio from Audible.com). These sources do not typically provide textbooks but may be an excellent source of supplementary literature.
What free sources of AIM are available?
There are many sources that provide AIM free-of-charge. Materials in the public domain due to copyright expiration can often be found in numerous locations on the Internet, typically in a digital text format. Although printed textbooks are rarely available, there are many web-based sources for originally print-based materials that may be used in literature courses or other classes.
There is also an increasing availability of instructional materials that are “open source”—materials that can be acquired, customized, and used with any student free-of-charge or for a very small fee, depending upon the source. If open source materials are being used by other students, the team should explore whether or not those materials are accessible.
Additional information about sources of AIM is available at the AIM Center web site on the Acquisition and Distribution web page (http://aim.cast.org/learn/practice/acquisitiondistribution).
What is the “locally created” option?
“Locally created” production refers to the means used by special education teachers and assistive technology personnel to make printed materials accessible by scanning, recording, or otherwise transforming them into formats that can be used by students with disabilities. Although this was the primary means of providing AIM for many years and is still the only way to provide some materials (e.g., non-published, teacher-created materials) this should be the means of last resort. Local creation of materials on a student-by-student basis is extremely time intensive and does little to encourage the systemic change needed to effectively and efficiently provide materials to all students who require specially formatted instructional materials to achieve positive educational outcomes. There is every expectation that as the market model strengthens and more accessible materials are available for purchase there will be markedly less need to use this option for textbooks and other published related core materials.
It is important to keep in mind that local creation of AIM does not relieve anyone from observing copyright law as it relates to instructional materials. If copyrighted materials are being used as a source, the restrictions are the same as those for AMPs and other sources. In other words, if an accessible format of a copyrighted material is created for one child who needs it, that material cannot be shared with another child who may simply prefer it (or even need it) if that child does not have a certified print-related disability—except possibly under the Fair Use exception to copyright statute. To learn more about the Fair Use exception, please refer to the U.S. Copyright Office’s information on Fair Use (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html). The safest approach is to obtain a publisher’s permission before creating materials locally.
The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard or NIMAS includes a technical specification used by publishers to produce source files (in XML) that may be used to develop multiple specialized formats (such as braille or audio books) for students with print disabilities. It is mandated in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) for textbooks and related printed core instructional materials. A NIMAS-conformant source file is not a student-ready format but must be converted into a specialized format (i.e., braille, audio, digital text, large print) for student use.
The NIMAS outlines and defines what a set of consistent and valid XML-based source file(s) and other component files consist of, and these are typically created by K–12 curriculum publishers or other content producers. These well-structured source filesets can be used to create student-ready, accessible specialized formats of print instructional materials. A complete NIMAS fileset includes an XML content file, a package file, images, and a PDF file of the title page (or whichever page contains ISBN and copyright information). More detailed information about the NIMAS is available at the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM Center) web site at the following page: NIMAS in IDEA (http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/federal/idea2004).
Special education statutes apply to state and local education agencies, not to publishers. There is no statutory requirement placed on publishers to create NIMAS source files and deposit them in the NIMAC. To be sure that NIMAS source files are created and deposited in the NIMAC so they are available for conversion to specialized formats when needed, all contracts for the purchase of educational materials need to include the requirement that these files be created and deposited along with a date by which this must be done. Additional information and sample contract language can be found in a FAQ about NIMAS and NIMAC on the AIM Center web site (http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/federal/faq).
The home page of the AIM Center web site contains a link to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education’s (OSEP’s) web site, Building the Legacy: IDEA 2004 that provides extensive information on the NIMAS including a topic brief, a video clip, training materials, presentations, a dialogue guide, and a Q&A document.
Who can use specialized formats created from NIMAS source files from the NIMAC?
IDEA specifies that a student must meet two criteria in order to receive a specialized format rendered from a NIMAS fileset from the NIMAC.
- The student must receive special education services under IDEA
- The student must be certified by a competent authority as having a disability as specified in the Act to Provide Books for the Adult Blind (approved March 3, 1931, 2 U.S.C. 135a) [34 CFR 300.172(e)(1)].
More detailed information is available at the AIM Center web site at the following page: NIMAS in IDEA (http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/federal/idea2004).
What is a print disability?
"Blind persons or other persons with print disabilities" means children served under Part 300 who may qualify to receive books and other publications produced in specialized formats in accordance with the Act entitled "An Act to Provide Books for the Adult Blind," approved March 3, 1931, 2 U.S.C. 135a. [34 CFR 300.172(e)(1)(i)] [20 U.S.C. 1474(e)(3)(A)].
Generally speaking, the term refers to individuals who are unable to read or use standard print materials because of a disability.
What are the “copyright criteria for specialized formats?”
The Library of Congress regulations (36 CFR 701.10(b)(1)) (http://www.loc.gov/nls/sec701.html) related to the Act to Provide Books for the Adult Blind (approved March 3, 1931, 2 U.S.C. 135a) provide that blind persons or other persons with disabilities include—
- "Blind persons whose visual acuity, as determined by competent authority, is 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting glasses, or whose widest diameter if visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees.
- Persons whose visual disability, with correction and regardless of optical measurement, is certified by competent authority as preventing the reading of standard printed material.
- Persons certified by competent authority as unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations.
- Persons certified by competent authority as having a reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction and of sufficient severity to prevent their reading printed material in a normal manner."
Who is a competent authority?
Based on the Library of Congress regulations (36 CFR 701.10(b)(2)) related to the Act to Provide Books for the Adult Blind (approved March 3, 1931, 2 U.S.C. 135a), a "competent authority" is defined as follows:
- “In cases of blindness, visual disability, or physical limitations "competent authority" is defined to include doctors of medicine, doctors of osteopathy, ophthalmologists, optometrists, registered nurses, therapists, professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (e.g., social workers, case workers, counselors, rehabilitation teachers, and superintendents). In the absence of any of these, certification may be made by professional librarians or by any persons whose competence under specific circumstances is acceptable to the Library of Congress.
- In the case of reading disability from organic dysfunction, competent authority is defined as doctors of medicine who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines.”
Who is an authorized user?
An authorized user (AU) is an agent of a state department of education who has access to the NIMAC database in order to download or to assign NIMAS fileset(s) for conversion to specialized formats in accordance with established agreements with the NIMAC.
What is the Chafee Amendment to Copyright Law?
The 1996 Chafee Amendment to Copyright Law, Public Law 104-197, adds Section 121, establishing an exception to copyright infringement for the reproduction of works for use by the blind or other persons with print disabilities. The definition of blind and other persons with disabilities refers, as does IDEA, to the definition in the Act to Provide Books for the Adult Blind approved March 3, 1931. For more detailed information on copyright law and the Chafee Amendment, refer to the National Library Service’s NLS Factsheet: Copyright Law Amendment, 1996 (http://www.loc.gov/nls/reference/factsheets/copyright.html).
Can the same law be interpreted in different ways?
Yes, there are ambiguities in the laws that are subject to interpretation. When questions arise, district personnel are urged to contact their district administrators and/or state NIMAS contact designee. For a list of state contacts, refer to the Primary NIMAS/NIMAC Contacts list on the AIM Center web site at http://aim.cast.org/learn/policy/state/nimas_nimac_contacts.
What about teacher-made materials?
Teacher-made materials include worksheets, tests, and other materials created by a teacher for use in a classroom that are not a part of published print materials purchased with textbooks and are not available in specialized formats from other sources. If a student requires specialized formats of published printed instructional materials, it logically follows that materials produced by a teacher will also need to be made accessible via a “locally created” process. The materials might be made accessible either in the development of the product (e.g., by using the Save-as-DAISY option in MS Word) or through another conversion option (e.g., creating a digital version by scanning the print version, creating an audio version by recording).
Teacher-made materials and other materials that are not copyrighted can be freely shared, and a local repository for these materials can be created to reduce duplication of effort.
See “What is the ‘locally created’ option?” for additional information and considerations.
What other major provisions in IDEA related to accessible instructional materials need to be addressed?
IDEA requires state education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) or school districts to provide instructional materials in specialized formats to all students with print disabilities in a timely manner ([34 CFR 300.172(3)]).
If a student receiving services under IDEA needs accessible instructional materials but does not meet copyright criteria or if needed materials are not available from the NIMAC, the SEA and LEA remain obligated to provide needed accessible materials in a timely manner [34 CFR 300.210(3)] by making use of other sources.
AIM Center Resources for Acquisition
National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials. (2010). AIMing for achievement: Providing accessible instructional materials [DVD]. Available from http://aim.cast.org/experience/training/AIMAchvDVD.
The AIMing for Achievement DVD includes content on a variety of topics that are important to the provision, selection, acquisition, and use of accessible instructional materials. The DVD contains interviews and illustrative scenarios that increase awareness and knowledge that support timely provision of accessible instructional materials to students who need them for educational participation and achievement.
National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials. (2010). AIM guide to federally-funded accessible media producers. Retrieved from http://aim.cast.org/learn/practice/acquisitiondistribution/aim_amp_guide.
This guide provides an overview of the three federally-funded accessible media producers (AMPs) including resources available from each, who can use them, and detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to access these resources. A question and answer document is provided for each of the AMPs.
National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials. (2010). AIM Navigator. Retrieved from http://aim.cast.org/experience/decision-making_tools/aim_navigator.
The AIM Navigator is an interactive tool that facilitates the process of decision-making around accessible instructional materials for an individual student. The four major decision points in the process include 1) determination of need, 2) selection of format(s), 3) acquisition of format(s), and 4) selection of supports for use. The AIM Navigator also includes a robust set of guiding questions and useful references and resources specifically related to each decision point. Different scaffolds of support are built in so that teams can access information at the level needed to assist them in making informed, accurate decisions.
Stahl, S., Hitchcock, C., Hendricks, V., Johnson, M., Christensen, S., & Siller, M. (2010, July). Accessible textbooks in the K–12 classroom: An educator’s guide to the acquisition of alternate format core learning materials for Pre-K–12 students with print disabilities. Retrieved from http://aim.cast.org/learn/aim4families/school/accessible_textbooks".
This guide, originally published in 2006 and updated in 2010 by the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials, is designed to provide educators and families with effective strategies for acquiring and using accessible, specialized format versions of print instructional materials in the classroom.
Stahl, S., Zabala, J., Hitchcock, C., & Hendricks, V. (2010). Accessible textbooks in the classroom II: Selecting specialized formats. Retrieved from http://aim.cast.org/learn/practice/use/accessible_textbooks_II.
This article, updated by the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials, is the third in a series of explorations related to the acquisition and use of accessible, specialized-format instructional materials for elementary and secondary school students with print disabilities. Suggested guidelines for determining which specialized formats and which tools to access them are best suited to a given student’s print-related challenges are provided.
Zabala, J. & Carl, D. (2010). What educators and families need to know about accessible instructional materials: Part one: Introduction and legal context. Retrieved from http://aim.cast.org/learn/accessiblemedia/allaboutaim/aimbasics.
Part One of the AIMing for Achievement Series provides a general introduction to accessible instructional materials and includes highlights regarding the legal context.
Image description: The accessible instructional materials workflow graphic depicts a five-step process of how accessible instructional materials are developed and provided to eligible students by four arrows shown pointing in a clockwise direction with students noted as receiving accessible instructional materials in the center. At the top right is a grey call-out box with instructions for reading the image labeled “begin here.”
The AIM workflow process begins with state education agencies (SEAs) or local education agencies (LEAs) issuing purchase orders or state adoption contracts that require publishers to submit a NIMAS fileset to the NIMAC as part of their textbook fulfillment order. In step two, publishers develop NIMAS filesets and send them to the NIMAC. A publisher may also offer accessible instructional materials for sale as a commercial product, in which case materials would be delivered directly to an SEA, LEA, or student. In step three, NIMAS filesets developed by the publishers are validated by the NIMAC and added to the NIMAC repository. In step four, an authorized user (AU) appointed by an SEA downloads the NIMAS fileset from the NIMAC or assigns it to an accessible media producer (AMP). The AU or AMP converts the NIMAS fileset into one or more student-ready specialized formats of accessible instructional materials. In step five, materials are delivered to SEAs or LEAs who, in turn, provide them to individual students.
See also the NIMAS Workflow Graphic at the What is NIMAS? page.