NIMAS (the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard) is a technical standard used by publishers to produce source files in multiple accessible formats for students with print disabilities. At the end of 2004, President George Bush signed into law the reauthorized Individualized with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This statute addressed the timely delivery of print textbooks to school-age students with print disabilities in accessible formats including braille, large print, digital text, and audio.

NIMAS File Eligibility

IDEA defers to the National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Print Disabled Library of Congress for NIMAS eligibility. In February 2021, the Library of Congress adopted amendments to its regulations. The changes include amended terminology, description of services, and certification requirements mostly in response to the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act of 2019. The change also expanded the types of works allowed to be copied from nondramatic literary works to all literary works, plus musical works fixed in the form of text or notation.

IDEA defines eligible students as:

"Blind or other persons with print disabilities" – The term 'blind or other persons with print disabilities' means children served under this Act and who may qualify in accordance with the Act entitled An Act to Provide Books for the Adult Blind, approved March 3, 1931 (2 U.S.C. 135a; 46 Stat. 1487) to receive books and other publications produced in accessible formats.

The Library of Congress regulations (36 CFR 701.6(b)(1)) related to An Act to Provide Books for the Adult Blind provide that eligible persons include someone who:

  • Is blind;
  • Has a visual impairment or perceptual or reading disability that cannot be improved to give visual function substantially equivalent to that of a person who has no such impairment or disability and so is unable to read printed works to substantially the same degree as a person without an impairment or disability; or
  • Is otherwise unable, through physical disability, to hold or manipulate a book or to focus or move the eyes to the extent that would be normally acceptable for reading.

The student must also be receiving special education services under IDEA and have a current Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Eligibility for NIMAS files must be certified by one of the following: doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, ophthalmologist, optometrist, psychologist, registered nurse, therapist, and professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (such as an educator, a social worker, case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, certified reading specialist, school psychologist, superintendent, or librarian).

Please note that a medical doctor is no longer required to certify individuals with reading disabilities.