‘Timely Manner’ for Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) Section 300.172 addresses access to instructional and educational materials in a timely manner by individuals who are blind or have other print-related disabilities through the establishment of the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) and the adoption of the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS).

Connecticut has adopted the NIMAS standard, and in a recent AEM – Topic Brief defines timely manner as “all reasonable efforts will be made by the local education agency (LEA) to ensure that accessible educational materials (AEM) are provided to children with disabilities who need accessible formats of educational materials at the same time as other children receiving their educational materials”.

If a student is identified by the planning and placement team (PPT) as having a print-related disability (e.g., blindness, visual impairment, physical limitations and specific learning disability in reading), which impacts the student’s ability to access curriculum, then the PPT may determine, as the competent authority, that the student qualifies to receive AEM produced in specialized formats as delineated on the individualized education program (IEP) through an accessible media producer and/or the NIMAC.

A helpful AEM – Flowchart with AEM – Scenarios that indicate how to determine the need for AEM, and sources which may be acquired in order to allow the student access to AEM in a timely manner, are available on the Connecticut State Department of Education website under NIMAS/NIMAC (http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2626&q=322684).

If you have questions related to AEM and the NIMAS/NIMAC process, please contact Thomas Boudreau, Bureau of Special Education, at 860-713-6925 or thomas.boudreau@ct.gov.




As districts order text books and other print instructional materials, the procurement process must include the enactment of a written contract with publishers of the materials to provide electronic files containing the contents of the print materials to the National Instructional Material Accessibility Center (NIMAC).  The publishers are required, on or before delivery of the print materials, to prepare and provide the print content using National Instructional Material Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) filesets, in order for the content to be stored in the NIMAC and produced or rendered into specialized formats (braille, large print, digital text or audio) as needed.  

Resource links are provided below that include: new suggested language for purchase orders/written contracts with NIMAC in order to access updated materials and links, creating accessible digital instructional learning materials, and Frequently Ask Questions about NIMAS/NIMAC.

NEW Purchase Order Language

Digital Technology

Frequently Asked Questions about NIMAS and NIMAC


Ensuring Access to Instructional Material for Students

The federal government instituted the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) and created a standard file format (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard [NIMAS]) as part of a solution for districts to obtain materials in formats that their students can use. Although NIMAC texts are not available to every student who is struggling with reading, the updated Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) Web site NIMAS/NIMAC, provides the step-by-step instructions required of local districts on how to: work with textbook publishers to make file formats available for conversion; identify the student and necessary format type for the individual student; and provide contact information for the appropriate Accessible Media Producers (AMPs). Schools will need to set up an account in order to access NIMAS derived materials with the newly authorized users of Bookshare (http://www.bookshare.org – an online library of copyrighted content for people with qualifying print disabilities) and Learning Ally (www.learningally.org – a nonprofit organization that provides a library of accessible audiobooks using human narration for people who cannot effectively read standard print).

Printed textbooks and educational materials used in elementary and secondary schools must be made available in a timely manner, in formats (e.g. Braille, large print, audio, digital text) that can be used by all students in the classroom. There is a new Connecticut Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Web site at http://aim.serc.co/ that addresses the elements of AIM for trade books/novels, including the process for accessing the standard file format of NIMAS. The Web site is maintained by the State Education Resource Center. The site offers more information about the AIM decision-making process, explores frequently asked questions with resources, and lists active professional development (PD) and learning opportunities offered by agencies throughout Connecticut regarding AIM/NIMAS.

Once the material has been formatted into a version appropriate for the student, assistive technology (AT) is often the mechanism utilized to ensure appropriate access to the file format. The CSDE recently published AT Guidelines to enable school districts to make informed decisions about the AT considerations, implementation and evaluation for their students, factoring in administrative support and PD.