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Instructional Materials Accessibility Act Section-by-Section Analysis

This document is no longer timely and may be only of historical value.

For information on current issues go to the Education Issues section.


Section 1 - Short Title

This Act may be cited as the "Instructional Materials Accessibility Act."

Section 2 - Purpose

This provision explains that the IMAA is intended to improve access for blind persons, or other persons with print disabilities, to print instructional materials used in elementary and secondary schools by creating a coordinated and efficient system for acquiring and distributing such materials in the form of electronic files suitable for conversion into a variety of specialized formats that are accessible to such persons. The transition for implementing this new system will occur over three (3) years.

Section 3 - National Advisory Committee and Electronic File Standards

This provision would require the Secretary of Education to establish a National Instructional Materials Accessibility Advisory Committee within three (3) months of the date of enactment.

No later than twelve (12) months after the date of enactment, the Secretary, in consultation with the Advisory Committee and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, would be required to issue technical standards for a "national electronic file format" suitable for efficient conversion into specialized formats, such as Braille, synthesized speech, digital text, digital audio books, or large print.

The national electronic file format would preempt State electronic file format requirements, and publishers would be required to begin using the national electronic file format no later than two (2) years after the standards are published in the Federal Register as a final rule.

Section 4 - Statewide Plan and Contracts with Publishers

Within two (2) years of enactment, the IMAA would require each state educational agency receiving federal financial assistance under the Individuals with Disabilities Act ("IDEA") to develop and implement a written statewide plan to ensure that printed instructional materials required for classroom use in elementary and secondary schools are made available in specialized formats to individuals who are blind or have other print disabilities at the same time such materials are provided to individuals without such disabilities.

In addition, each such state educational agency would be required, as part of any adoption process, procurement contract, or other practice or instrument used for the purchase of instructional materials, to enter into a written contract with the publisher of the materials requiring the publisher, in conjunction with its provision of the materials, to also provide such materials to a National Instructional Materials Access Center ("Center") (see below) as electronic files in the prescribed national electronic file format. Such contracts, which would be entered into and take effect not later than three (3) years after enactment, must address the provision of both pupil and requested teacher editions of the materials in electronic files suitable for conversion into specialized formats.

The provisions regarding publisher obligations would preempt any inconsistent requirements of any State or local government regarding a publisher's provision of print instructional materials in the form of electronic files for conversion into specialized formats, except that nothing in the IMAA would impair the right of any State or local educational agency to enter into a contract with the publisher for the purpose of obtaining such electronic files directly from the publisher, rather than obtaining them from the National Instructional Materials Access Center (see below) which would otherwise receive them from the publisher and make them available to the agency.

Section 5 - National Instructional Materials Access Center

Not later than two (2) years after enactment, IMAA would require the Secretary to establish a "National Instructional Materials Access Center" to coordinate the acquisition and distribution of instructional materials provided by publishers in the prescribed national electronic file format. A contract to operate the Center, renewable on a biannual basis, would be competitively awarded by the Secretary to a nonprofit organization or consortium of such organizations.

Section 6 - Conversion Capacity-Building Grants

These provisions authorize the Secretary to award grants to eligible entities to provide or improve their capacities to prepare or obtain instructional materials in specialized formats as provided under IMAA. They also authorize federal appropriations for this purpose.

Section 7 - Enforcement

These provisions do not create new enforcement mechanisms, but make the rights, remedies and procedures available to children and parents under the IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 also available to children and parents aggrieved by violations of the IMAA by any state or local educational agency, without limiting any right, remedy, or procedure otherwise available under federal law that "provides greater or equal protection for the rights of blind or other persons with print disabilities."

Section 8 - Relationship to Section 121 of the Copyright Act

These provisions clarify that, for purposes of the IMAA, a publisher's provision of print instructional materials to a State or local educational agency in the national electronic file format, and reproduction or distribution of such materials in a "large print" format by a government agency or nonprofit organization whose primary mission is to provide specialized services to blind persons or others with disabilities, will be considered noninfringing uses of such materials under the Chafee Amendment to the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. Section 121.

Section 9 - Use of Funds

This provision requires that any funds made available under the IMAA must be used to supplement, rather than to supplant, any other funds available to carry out the requirements of the IMAA.

Section 10 - Research and Reports

This provision requires the Secretary to research the effect of the IMAA on the timely delivery of accessible instructional materials to the students who require them, and to report to the appropriate Congressional committees on the results of such research no later than three (3) years after enactment.

Section 11 - Definitions

These provisions define key terms as they are used in the IMAA, including "print disability," "instructional materials," "national electronic file format," and "specialized format," among others.

(1) "Print disabilities" means individuals who are eligible or who may qualify in accordance with the Act entitled "An Act to provide books for the adult blind," (2 U.S.C. 135a), to receive books and other publications produced in specialized formats.

(2) "Instructional materials" means printed basal textbooks and related core materials that are written and published primarily for use in elementary and secondary school instruction and are required by a state or local educational agency for use in the classroom, including specifically-requested teachers' editions of such materials.

(3) "National electronic file format" means a well-organized, structured, and marked-up electronic file which is suitable for efficient conversion into specialized formats and which is in conformance with the technical standards to be issued pursuant to section 5 of this Act.

(4) "Center" means the National Instructional Materials Access Center established by the Secretary under section 5.

(5) "Secretary" means the Secretary of Education.

(6) "Specialized format," with respect to instructional materials, means Braille, synthesized speech, digital text, digital audio, or large print.

(7) "State educational agency" and "local educational agency" have the meanings given those terms in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

Section 12 - Effective Date

This section provides that the date of enactment is the effective date and that this Act shall apply to instructional materials published and copyrighted after the technical standards are published in the Federal Register.

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