NIMAS: Single File, Multiple Outputs
The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (known as NIMAS) is based on the DAISY Standard and is the legally mandated format for K–12 textbooks and supplementary material in the US.
The goals or purpose of NIMAS, as outlined in the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard Report, Version 1.0 are, in summary:
- To make appropriate and accessible versions of print textbooks available to every student who needs them (overarching goal)
- To make progress toward standardization of the source file format
- To improve the efficiency of third party relationships by reducing the need of publishers to produce different formats for different instances
- To make the process of transformation and deliver by authorized entities more efficient by reducing the need for repetitious and often ineffective transformations
- To establish a unified approach for the development of accessible learning materials
- To simplify the acquisition process for schools and teachers
- To simplify the implementation process for teachers
More information about NIMAS can be found at: National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard Report, Version 1.0.
Cara Branigan, Associate Editor, eSchool News wrote in August 12, 2004:
"At least 26 states have passed accessible textbook legislation, and these states have asked the textbook publishers to provide electronic versions...Microsoft Word..., ASCII or QuarkXpress files..." NIMAS "will give organizations a single, consistent file format so they can streamline their entire transformation operations and get books out to students faster." Publishers are asked to produce one file format only: NIMAS
NIMAS is comprised of a Baseline Element Set and an Optional Element Set. The Baseline Element Set details the minimum requirement that must be delivered to fulfill the NIMAS standard. It is the responsibility of the publishers to provide this NIMAS-compliant XML file along with a separate PDF file with embedded images for reference in creating descriptions, and a NIMAS-compliant package file.
Exactly What is NIMAS?
- An application of the DTBook element set of the DAISY/NISO Standard
- A collection of digital files that provides an accessible representation of the printed book for blind, visually disabled, and print-disabled users
It is eloquently described on the CAST Web site as follows: "NIMAS guides the production and electronic distribution of digital versions of textbooks and other instructional materials so they can be more easily converted to accessible formats, including Braille and text-to-speech." The key words in NIMAS are simply accessibility and flexibility.
The limitations of print and the barriers it poses to those unable to use print can and will be eliminated. Different people have different reading needs, and a NIMAS file can be used to output whatever accessible format a student may require, regardless of reading challenge.
As a subset of the DAISY/NISO Standard, NIMAS does not provide the markup complexity and 'richness' that is inherent in DAISY/NISO. But provision of NIMAS files by publishers to organizations producing accessible materials does mean consistency in source file format based on the international DAISY/NISO for these organizations.
NIMAS files can be used as a source component in the production process to produce the output format required.
DAISY/NISO is the better way to read and to publish
DAISY/NISO allows the content to adapt to the user's needs. Rather than the user adapting to the content's restrictions, text content can be delivered in the form the user wants:
- Synthetic speech
- Large print
- Refreshable Braille
- Hardcopy Braille
- Plus, human recorded speech narration
Content flexibility implies choice of device
- DAISY players (hardware and software)
- Portable adaptive devices
- MP3 players
- Hardcopy Braille
- Hardcopy Large Print
Text is available under the terms of the DAISY Consortium Intellectual Property Policy, Licensing, and Working Group Process.