Superintendent’s Memo #067-12

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

March 9, 2012

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT:  Provision of Accessible Instructional Materials for Students with Print Disabilities

On May 12, 2008, the Accessible Instructional Materials Center of Virginia (AIM-VA) located at George Mason University (GMU) began to take orders for textbooks and core instructional materials that needed to be converted into accessible formats (Braille, Large Print, Electronic Text, and Audio) for students with print disabilities in Virginia. The overall mission of AIM-VA is to implement a single-source statewide library and ordering system that is capable of producing and distributing accessible instructional materials, consistent with the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards (NIMAS) under the Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA, 2004) at no cost to local educational agencies. Regulations governing special education programs for children with disabilities in Virginia address access to instructional materials in section 8VAC20-81-230 (J). Since its implementation in 2008, AIM-VA has filled more than 23,000 orders for accessible materials and has grown its library to include over 142,000 books.

A critical step following reauthorization of the 2004 IDEIA regulations required the Virginia Department of Education to either “opt in” or “opt out” of the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC). The NIMAC is a national repository of electronic source files (NIMAS files) created by publishers that can be converted into the accessible formats described above for students with print disabilities. Based on Superintendent’s Memo No. 40, dated September 15, 2006, every school division in Virginia was also given the choice to either “opt in” or “opt out” of the NIMAC.

Every division “opted in” and, therefore, every contract with publishers for textbooks and workbooks on or after December 3, 2006, must include a provision that requires the publisher to produce NIMAS-conformant files for those books and deposit them into the NIMAC.

Before a school can request and receive materials from AIM-VA, the division superintendent or director of special education must designate a staff person(s) to be a Digital Rights Manager (DRM). The DRM is responsible for monitoring and documenting copyright compliance within the school division. Larger school divisions may elect to appoint a Lead DRM and/or multiple DRMs.  The DRM must request, receive, and track the usage of copyrighted accessible instructional materials for students with print disabilities.

The Virginia Department of Education and AIM-VA are committed to maintaining strict adherence to copyright laws. For a student who, pursuant to an IEP, requires the use of accessible instructional materials that are available or will be available through AIM-VA, the school division shall follow these requirements in conjunction with its request to AIM-VA:

  1. The IEP team or 504 committee must document in the child's IEP or 504 plan that the student has a need for accessible instructional materials because the child meets one of the following criteria:

    (1) Blind person whose visual acuity, as determined by competent authority, is 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting glasses, or whose widest diameter of visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees; (2) Person whose visual disability, with correction and regardless of optical measurement, is certified by competent authority as preventing the reading of standard printed material; (3) Person certified by competent authority as unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitation; or (4) Person certified by competent authority as having a reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction and of sufficient severity to prevent their reading printed material in a normal manner. (Copyright Act of 1931 as Amended)

  2. Unless waived by the publisher in writing, the school division must purchase, or have purchased, a printed copy of the core instructional material for each student for whom it requests an accessible format.

  3. Each school division shall designate a Digital Rights Manager(s) (DRMs) responsible for managing copyright compliance.

  4. Each accessible instructional material must be assigned directly to one particular student using that student's unique testing identifier (STI). Distribution of these materials to any other student constitutes a significant violation of copyright law.

Effective February 1, 2012, AIM-VA has ceased the production of new large print materials not already in the AIM-VA library. This action was recommended by the AIM-VA advisory council and was announced to Digital Rights Managers in an official AIM-VA Memo on November 3, 2011. Large print materials already produced and available in the library before this date, will be available for order by school divisions.

Please note that accessible electronic versions of books, including those currently in the database as well as those newly ordered, will be available at no cost for direct download from the AIM-VA system. Textbooks (including pages, tables, chapters, etc.) can then be printed in large print by the school division directly from the downloaded file. Divisions who need new large print textbooks not already in the AIM-VA library will have to contract directly with a local/national printing company or print them locally.

AIM-VA encourages personnel in school divisions to expand their usage of digital versions of textbooks that allow embedding a variety of universal supports to make instructional materials more accessible. Contrast as well as font type and size can be tailored to individual student needs, and digital texts can be read on desktops, laptops, mobile phones and e-readers. These newer technologies empower students to determine which types of accommodations work best for their individualized learning styles.

To assist personnel in school divisions in the use of accessible electronic textbooks, AIM-VA has partnered with Don Johnston, Inc. to provide each division with Read:OutLoud software at no cost. Read:OutLoud provides accessibility supports including text-to-speech and study tools that help students with disabilities read with comprehension. The contract between AIM-VA and Don Johnston, Inc. allows your school division unlimited use of this software on computers in classrooms that support students with disabilities as well as take home rights. For more information regarding Read:OutLoud, please contact Joyce Sharp, Communications Director at AIM-VA.

Additional information may be found at www.aimva.org. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the following individuals:

Questions about AIM-VA:
Joyce Sharp – Communications Director – AIM-VA
(540) 948-6938; E-mail: jsharp1@gmu.edu

Questions about placing orders online and registering Digital Rights Manager(s):
AIM-VA Help Desk – 1-866-926-1879;  E-mail: aimva@gmu.edu

General Questions:
John Eisenberg - (804) 225-2711; E-mail: john.eisenberg@doe.virginia.gov

PIW/JE