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Assistive Technology and NIMAS


Assistive technology enables children with disabilities to participate more fully in all aspects of life (home, school, and community) and helps them access their right to a “free, appropriate, public education” in the “least restrictive environment.”

281--Iowa Administrative Code 41.172

Before the IEP Meeting

The following steps need to be completed prior to the IEP meeting:

  1. Teacher reviews information regarding the student’s abilities, educational tasks that are difficult for the student, interventions that have been implemented.
  2. The following questions should be asked in regards to assistive technology (AT) services and devices and accessible formats:
    • What are the rest of the students’ doing that this student can’t do?
    • Is there available AT (either devices, tools, or software) or accessible formats that could be used to address what the student can’t do?
  3. Collect information about possible AT interventions and accessible formats. This might include having the student try different devices or software to see what works or not.
  4. Implement the chosen intervention and collect sufficient data, typically 6-8 weeks worth of data about the intervention’s effectiveness. This time frame should be based on the device or format being assessed, the student’s needs, and the severity of the intervention problem.
  5. If data (collected as stated in #4 above) shows that the AT/accessible format intervention does not work, try another intervention, if available, and collect additional data.

At the IEP Meeting

The following are important to address at the IEP meeting:

  1. Review pre-IEP interventions and data on AT interventions
  2. Address: "Does the student require AT devices and/or services?"
    • If the current interventions are working and AT is not required, discuss evidence of progress and proceed with the development of the IEP
    • If AT is already being used effectively, the AT intervention must be described in the IEP
    • If there has been a trial with an AT intervention and the IEP team determines that it is a requirement to meet the student’s needs, include specific statements of such services, including the nature and amount of such services. The inclusion of assistive technology in the IEP requires a degree of specificity so that it is clear how and why the technology will be used to accomplish a particular goal and the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of the technology (Services Section-Page F)
    • If the IEP team determines that AT should be tried, describe what AT intervention will be tried, for what specific educational tasks, under what conditions, and the criteria for determining whether or not the need is being met by the AT intervention (Services Section-Page F)
  3. Establish student-learning goals, AT devices and services, and accessible formats on pages B and D or the IEP form including how AT will be implemented and utilized to meet these learning goals. Also describe the textbooks and related core materials to be converted to accessible formats.
  4. Establish review dates of progress of AT on IEP learning goals (this is not the annual review of the IEP).
  5. Identify methods and dates to monitor progress of AT implementation.
  6. Identify training needs of student, family members, necessary staff, and who will provide the training and when.
  7. Discuss timely manner issues (when student needs the device, who needs to be trained, how device will be ordered and installed or implemented)
  8. Discuss maintenance and repair issues and responsibilities.
  9. Team discusses transition issues such as course-to-course, grade-to-grade, post-secondary, and early access to school.
  10. LEA representative on the team is responsible for monitoring the provision of AT in a timely manner.

After the IEP Meeting

Following the IEP meeting:

  • Implement interventions
  • Document the effect on student performance
  • Review effectiveness of AT/accessible formats on a periodic basis using data

The LEA representative is responsible for monitoring the provision of AT/accessible formats in a timely manner.

National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards (NIMAS)

What is NIMAS?

The NIMAS establishes standards to be used by textbook publishers to prepare electronic files of textbooks, which can be converted to specialized formats.

National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) website

LEA and AEA Responsibilities

LEA and AEA responsibilities include:

  • Identifying NIMAS eligible students
  • Identifying appropriate specialized accessible format for each individual
The LEA is responsible for:
  • Obtain materials in a timely manner (link to process for obtaining formats in a timely manner)
  • Textbook adoption guidance (link for suggested language for contracts and purchase orders)

Identification and Certification for NIMAS Eligibility

In cases of blindness, visual impairment, or physical disability, certifying authorities include:

  • Doctors of medicine or osteopathy
  • Ophthalmologists
  • Optometrists
  • Registered nurses
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physician assistants
  • Therapists
  • Professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public agencies (e.g., AEA support and related service personnel, teachers of the visually impaired, social workers, counselors, or rehabilitation teachers)

In the case of a reading disability from an organic dysfunction, the certifying authority must be a doctor of medicine or osteopathy, who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines.

A family member is not eligible to be the certifying authority.

Who is eligible to receive NIMAS materials?

Persons who are blind, visually impaired, physically disabled, or reading disabled and have been certified by competent authority.

What are specialized accessible formats?

Specialized accessible formats are Braille, audio, large print, text to speech or digital text, which can be used by students who are blind, vision impaired, physically disabled, and reading disabled.

Required Timeline

NIMAS requires that students receive materials in a timely manner.  Timely manner means that NIMAS eligible students will receive their specialized accessible formatted materials at the same time other students receive their instructional materials.

Textbook Adoption Guidance

The district must either:

  • Require publishers to provide National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center (NIMAC) with electronic files containing the content of the print instructional materials using the NIMAS standards; or
  • Purchase instructional materials from the publisher that are produced in, or may be rendered in, specialized formats.

Documentation on IEP

On Page B of the Web IEP, there is a NIMAS eligibility question.  Answer Yes if the student is NIMAS eligible. 

On Page B of the Web IEP form in “Describe the effect…” describe textbooks and related core materials to be converted to an accessible format.

Describe on the Services Page how the accessible format will be used.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on March 18, 2018 at 9:35pm.