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NIMAC project launched at the American Printing House for the Blind

speeds production of textbooks for blind and visually impaired students

November 2006

Congress, educators, publishers, software developers, and accessible material producers across the U.S. have worked together to create an internet-based process that will expedite the development of textbooks for blind and visually impaired students in accessible formats, such as braille and large print. The American Printing House for the Blind (APH), selected by Congress to house and manage the project, announced today that all components of the system are online, right on schedule.

In 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA), calling for the establishment of the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) at APH by December 2006.

In addition to NIMAC, IDEIA also called for the development of a highly structured standardized file format called the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) to be used by publishers submitting electronic textbook files to the NIMAC. Prior to the development of NIMAS in 2005, textbook files were created in many different formats, making the translation process complex and labor intensive.

The establishment of NIMAC at APH, along with the development of a standard file format, has set the stage for a new era in accessible textbook production. Publishers of educational materials can now deposit standardized electronic files into a central repository that is part of the NIMAC. Authorized users, such as state education agencies, can download these files directly from the repository. These agencies, or private companies working as their agents, can convert the files into accessible formats. The files will enable them to more easily translate print into braille or large print.

APH President Tuck Tinsley said, "The establishment of the National Instructional Materials Access Center at APH represents a huge step forward in our efforts to produce and deliver accessible textbooks, in a timely manner, to the blind and visually impaired students we serve across the country. It is an honor to be working with the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, textbook publishers and many other groups to turn this dream of educational opportunity into a reality which will benefit thousands of students who use braille and large print materials in the classroom."

For more information about NIMAC, visit on the web or contact Julia Myers, phone (502) 899-2230, email: email hidden; JavaScript is required.


The American Printing House for the Blind, Inc., founded in 1858, is the oldest organization of its kind in the United States and the world’s largest not-for-profit company that creates educational, workplace and lifestyle products for blind or visually impaired people. In 1879, the U.S. Congress passed the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind. This act set up a system to provide free schoolbooks and other materials for blind students and named the American Printing House for the Blind as the national central source of these educational materials.