FR Doc 05-12853
[Federal Register: June 29, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 124)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 37302-37306]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []
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34 CFR Part 300

RIN 1820-AB56

National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard

AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 
Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.


SUMMARY: The Secretary of Education proposes to establish the National 
Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS or standard) as 
required under sections 612(a)(23)(A) and 674(e)(4) of the Individuals 
with Disabilities Education Act, as amended by the Individuals with 
Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (Act). The purpose of 
the NIMAS is to help increase the availability and timely delivery of 
print instructional materials in accessible formats to blind or other 
persons with print disabilities in elementary schools and secondary 

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before September 12, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this proposed standard to Troy 
Justesen, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. 
Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 5126, Potomac 
Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-2641. If you prefer to send your 
comments through the Internet, you may address them to us at the U.S. 
Government Web site:

    Or you may send your Internet comments to us at the following 
    You must include the term ``NIMAS Comments'' in the subject line of 
your electronic message.
    Please submit your comments only one time in order to ensure that 
we do not receive duplicate copies.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Troy R. Justesen. Telephone: (202) 
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER 


Invitation to Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding our proposal to adopt 
the NIMAS and to make your comments as specific as possible. Also, if 
appropriate, please identify the specific section or subsection of the 
NIMAS that each of your comments addresses and arrange your comments in 
the same order as the standard.
    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific 
requirements of Executive Order 12866 and its overall requirement of 
reducing regulatory burden that might result from this proposed 
regulatory action. Please let us know of any further opportunities we 
should take to reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits in 
connection with this regulatory action.
    Please include the following with your comments: A description of 
the area of your involvement in special education or regular education, 
as well as your role, if any, in that area (e.g., parent, teacher, 
student, state or local administrator, or researcher) or other area 
(e.g., technology specialist, publisher, or software developer).
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about the standard in room 5126, Potomac Center Plaza, 550 
12th Street, SW., Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 
p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Comments

    On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or 
print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs 
assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public 
rulemaking record for this standard. If you want to schedule an 
appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person listed 


    States use electronic files from publishers of educational 
materials to produce accessible versions (e.g., Braille or digital 
audio) of these materials or contract to have accessible versions 
produced from these files. Because States have different requirements 
for these electronic files, however, publishers often experience 
increased costs for production, and States experience delays and 
inconsistencies in the materials produced.
    To facilitate the provision of accessible, timely, and consistent 
versions of print textbooks in the United States, the Department of 
Education funded the National Center on Accessing the General 
Curriculum (NCAC) at the Center on Applied Special Technologies, Inc. 
(CAST) to establish technical specifications for a voluntary national 
instructional materials accessibility standard. Beginning in November 
2002, NCAC convened a panel of 43 experts, composed of educators, 
publishers, technology specialists, and disability groups. The National 
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) also participated on the 
panel. The panel held three public meetings in January, March, and June 
2003, and conducted extensive teleconference and online discussions.

[[Page 37303]]

    The panel developed, with consensus, a common standard for digital 
source files that can be used to accurately and reliably produce 
instructional materials in a variety of alternate formats using the 
same source file. This standard, known as the National Instructional 
Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS, version 1.0), provides a 
single, uniform format that can be used for the electronic files 
associated with instructional materials. The Department announced the 
establishment of the NIMAS as a voluntary standard on July 27, 2004. 
Additional information on the standard and the expert panel's report is 
available at

    The purpose of the NIMAS is to help increase the availability and 
timely delivery of print instructional materials in accessible formats 
to blind or other persons with print disabilities in elementary schools 
and secondary schools. The term print instructional materials is 
defined in section 674(e)(3)(C) of the Act, and the term blind or other 
persons with print disabilities is defined in section 674(e)(3)(A) of 
the Act.
    Under section 674(e)(4) of the Act, the NIMAS applies to print 
instructional materials published after the date on which the final 
rule establishing the NIMAS is published in the Federal Register. This 
notice proposes to establish the NIMAS and would amend 34 CFR part 300 
for purposes of complying with section 674(e)(4) of the Act. A separate 
rulemaking proceeding will be conducted to require States to adopt the 
standard. In this separate notice, the Secretary will propose other 
amendments to 34 CFR part 300, which will contain information and seek 
public comment on the requirement for States to adopt the NIMAS in a 
timely manner after it has been established by the Department, as set 
forth in section 612(a)(23)(A) of the Act.

Significant Proposed Regulation

    We propose to establish the NIMAS in our regulations by adding an 
appendix to 34 CFR part 300 that will set forth the technical elements 
and specifications for the standard. The proposed appendix is included 
at the end of this notice.

Executive Order 12866

Potential Costs and Benefits

    Under Executive Order 12866, we have assessed the potential costs 
and benefits of this regulatory action.
    The potential costs associated with the proposed standard are those 
resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined to 
be necessary for administering this program effectively and 
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this regulatory action, we have determined that the 
benefits would justify the costs.
    We have also determined that this regulatory action would not 
unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the 
exercise of their governmental functions.

Summary of Potential Costs and Benefits

    The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) 
applies to print instructional materials required by State or local 
educational agencies (LEAs) for classroom use. Publishers, State and 
local educational agencies, authorized conversion entities, and 
students potentially will be affected by NIMAS.
    The adoption of the NIMAS is expected to provide long-term cost 
savings for publishers of educational materials. Currently, 26 States 
have laws requiring publishers to provide State or local educational 
agencies with electronic files suitable for converting print 
instructional materials into Braille versions. Depending on what 
requirements each State has enacted, publishers may be required to 
produce a conversion file in as many as 6 different file formats. This 
process wastes time and effort on the part of publishers and is 
unnecessarily costly. Adoption of the NIMAS means that publishers won't 
have to convert their materials to several different file formats.
    The NIMAS will supersede the different standards for source files 
currently used by some State and local educational agencies to produce 
accessible versions of textbooks. However, unless States and LEAs 
currently use electronic source files to produce their own accessible 
versions of textbooks, this will not result in any additional cost to 
these agencies beyond that associated with publishing new State rules, 
as needed, to implement the NIMAS. In most cases, States and LEAs 
currently contract with third party providers to take the electronic 
source files and convert them into accessible formats such as Braille, 
digital text, and digital audio. These third party providers may 
encounter some cost in adapting to the use of the NIMAS files, but this 
will be more than offset by the savings realized from only having to 
work with one format instead of multiple formats. In addition, these 
entities will not need to spend exorbitant amounts of time manipulating 
different types of files in order to convert them into accessible 
formats. Working with only one format is also a benefit for publishers 
of textbooks and will result in cost savings for these entities. Any 
cost to States and LEAs in moving to NIMAS should be offset by the 
increased speed in which they receive files and improved consistency 
and quality of the files received.
    The adoption of NIMAS is expected to be highly valuable to students 
who are blind or who have print disabilities because they will have 
access to accessible versions of textbooks in a timely manner. Current 
methods of converting print textbooks into Braille and other 
specialized formats are complex and time consuming, and the process can 
take months to complete. In many cases students who are blind or who 
have print disabilities now receive accessible textbooks and other 
instructional materials well after the beginning of the instructional 
period. The adoption of the NIMAS will improve both the speed of the 
process and the quality and consistency of books converted into 
specialized formats.
    The Act does not require existing textbooks to be converted to 
NIMAS. There also are no associated costs to prepare special education 
instructors to use or train others to use this new standard because 
teachers and other educational staff receive the books in their final 
accessible format. The method used to produce the book is not visible 
to the teachers or students, except that use of the universal standard 
is expected to speed the delivery of the books to the students and 
improve the quality and consistency of the texts.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    The Secretary certifies that this proposed standard would not have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. This proposed standard would largely affect States and State 
agencies or individuals. States and State agencies are not defined as 
``small entities'' in the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    The proposed standard does not contain any information collection 

Intergovernmental Review

    This standard is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the 
regulations in 34 CFR part 79.

[[Page 37304]]


    Executive Order 13132 requires us to ensure meaningful and timely 
input by State and local elected officials in the development of 
regulatory policies that have federalism implications. ``Federalism 
implications'' means substantial direct effects on the States, on the 
relationship between the National Government and the States, or on the 
distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of 
government. The proposed standard may have federalism implications, as 
defined in Executive Order 13132. We encourage State and local elected 
officials to review and provide comments on this proposed standard.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe 
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site:

    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. 
Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in 
the Washington, DC, area at (202) 512-1530.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the 
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal 
Regulations is available on GPO Access at:

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number does not apply)

List of Subjects in 34 CFR Part 300

    National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS), 
Special education, Grant programs--accessible instructional materials, 

    Dated: June 24, 2005.
John H. Hager,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Secretary proposes 
to amend part 300 of title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations as 


    1. The authority citation for part 300 continues to read as 

    Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1411-1420, unless otherwise noted.
    2. Appendix D is added to part 300 as follows:

Appendix D--National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard

           Technical Specifications--The Baseline Element Set
         Element                            Description
            a. Document-level tags (required to be valid XML)
dtbook...................  The root element in the Digital Talking Book
                            DTD.  contains metadata in 
                            and the contents itself in .
Head.....................  Contains metainformation about the book but
                            no actual content of the book itself, which
                            is placed in . This information is
                            consonant with the  information in
                            xhtml, see [XHTML11STRICT]. Other
                            miscellaneous elements can occur before and
                            after the required