National Centers to Develop the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)
Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs has awarded CAST (www.cast.org) two five-year Cooperative Agreements to establish two national centers to further develop and implement the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS). NIMAS guides the production and electronic distribution of digital versions of textbooks and other instructional materials so they can be more easily converted to accessible formats, including braille and text-to-speech.
Subcontracts with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) have been established. In addition, CAST staff is working with the DAISY Consortium and the Z39.86 Advisory Committee.
NIMAS Technical Assistance Center
The Technical Assistance Center will address the implementation of the standard. It will support publishers, the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC), states, districts, and schools. Universal design is the overarching principle, meaning various paths to access.
The Technical Assistance Center will be responsible for promoting awareness of NIMAS, taking publishers' concerns into account (such as supporting them as they develop appropriate work flows) and creating sample content. Authorized entities will be assisted as they develop the capabilities to convert and transform NIMAS files into enhanced content such as braille or synchronized text and audio.
CAST will work with a few states that have different laws and have a variety of capabilities in place. CAST will be establishing the selection criteria for these few states, publishers, and other entities such as conversion houses.
NIMAS Development Center
The NIMAS Development Center will work toward defining and expanding the populations served. Ideally, content provided will expand beyond print textbooks to include additional content that supports learning. Basic access to content will remain the primary goal, but electronic content can be enhanced to support pedagogical aims. Technological advances will be identified and monitored with an eye toward how those technological advances can benefit teachers and teaching methods. A market-based distribution model is likely to be the most effective approach.
For information about the NIMAS Development Committee, go to nimas.cast.org/center/committee/.