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National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)

June 29, 2005 - Troy R. Justesen, acting director of the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education, would like to share with you an important message about an addition to the proposed regulations to implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004).

I'm pleased to tell you that since the draft proposed regulations to implement IDEA 2004 were first made publicly available on June 10th, we've been hearing from teachers, students, families and state officials at an ongoing series of public meetings, as well as through comments they are sending us by mail and email. This dialogue with the public is of critical importance to us as we move toward issuing the final regulations at the end of this year.

As reauthorized, IDEA 2004 provides for the Department to establish the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS), a standardized format for electronic files that allows classroom materials to be adapted to products ranging from Braille editions of textbooks to on-screen displays of text and graphics. It provides students with blindness, low vision and print disabilities improved access to textbooks. In past years, the lack of a standardized format meant that publishers had to produce materials in multiple formats--often causing delays that meant students with disabilities did not receive their textbooks in time for the beginning of the school year.  The use of this standard will allow students and teachers to more quickly access general curriculum materials, giving students with
disabilities the same educational resources as their non-disabled peers.

Today I wanted to make you aware that the proposed regulations for establishing NIMAS will be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, June 29, 2005. As with the other proposed regulations implementing IDEA, we invite public comment on the NIMAS proposed regulations.