Education Department issues final interpretation: Digital materials are considered print materials for accessibility

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) established the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) in 2004 to assist states and districts with producing accessible instructional materials for students with print disabilities. Primarily, the NIMAC is responsible for producing materials for eligible students who are blind, visually impaired, or have print disabilities — as defined under Section 131 of the U.S. Copyright Act.

To ensure eligible students have access to textbooks and other educational materials — and in response to technological advances in the creation of educational curricula — the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has issued a new interpretation of the phrase “printed textbooks and related core materials” referred to in the definition of “print instructional materials” in section 674(e)(3)(C) of IDEA to include digital instructional materials.

ED’s rationale further explains why the new interpretation of print instructional materials includes digital materials by stating, “because that is the primary medium through which many textbooks and core materials are now produced.”

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