NIMAS refers to the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard. It is a provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and was endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education as the preferred approach for publishers to provide accessible curricular materials to students in grades K-12. NIMAS guides the production and electronic distribution of digital versions of textbooks and other instructional materials so they can be more easily converted into accessible formats.
By December 2006, all state and local education agencies needed to establish a means of purchasing and distributing these materials and the U.S. Department of Education established the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) as a repository for files provided by publishers. This legislation was a step forward in providing accessible materials for students with disabilities in elementary and secondary educational settings. It was not mandated for public universities as students in postsecondary settings are protected under provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, not IDEA.
In the past, instead of being provided in quantities that met the need of the community, accessible materials were often provided on an individual basis, frequently untimely (Pisha and Stahl, 2005). Previously, it was difficult for students with disabilities to anticipate in what format their materials might arrive. With NIMAS, there is a minimum standard for schools and publishers to follow when creating these educational materials.
Source: Pisha, B., & Stahl, S. (November 2005). The Promise of New Learning Environments for Students with Disabilities. Intervention in School and Clinic, 41(2), 67-75.