NLS Publishes New Regulations: Medical Doctor Certification No Longer Required for Reading Disabilities
We’re pleased to inform you of important regulatory changes that should ease access to accessible formats of materials for students with reading disabilities, including dyslexia.
In March of 2020, we sent a notification about changes to U.S. copyright law that have an impact on students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and may also qualify to receive accessible formats of materials derived from the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS). At that time, the Library of Congress Technical Corrections Act of 2019 had amended terminology for persons eligible to receive accessible materials consistent with the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (MTIA).
On February 12, 2021, the National Library Service (NLS) published the regulations that go along with the Library of Congress Technical Corrections Act of 2019. In addition to expanding the list of persons who may certify a student’s eligibility for accessible formats, the Library of Congress removed the requirement for certification by a medical doctor for those with reading disabilities. Educators, school psychologists, and certified reading specialists are now among the professionals authorized to certify students with reading disabilities.
The National AEM Center will be providing technical assistance to states and districts to support the implementation of these changes. Our team welcomes any immediate questions or concerns. Please contact us at email@example.com.
In these otherwise challenging times, we’re relieved to celebrate this advancement in access with you, your students, and their families.
Director of Technical Assistance, CAST
Director of the National AEM Center
While the new guidelines are important for NSL users, they also have an impact on National Instructional Materials Access Standard – NIMAS eligibility criteria. The revised Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 – IDEA 2004 requires that students have an IEP and a qualifying disability in order to be eligible for materials produced from NIMAS. For the qualifying disability criterion, the legislation points to the NLS guidelines. For this reason, it is recommended that all National Instructional Materials Access Center – NIMAC users review the new guidelines.
A significant and positive change for NIMAS noted is that the pool of professionals that qualify to certify eligibility has been expanded to read:
(2) Eligibility must be certified by one of the following: doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, ophthalmologist, optometrist, psychologist, registered nurse, therapist, and professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (such as an educator, a social worker, case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, certified reading specialist, school psychologist, superintendent, or librarian).
The NIMAC will soon be updating its Limitation of Use Agreements and Coordination Agreements to incorporate the updated language, and providing additional guidance related to the change.
Recent federal statutory developments have impacted the provision of accessible educational materials, specifically those sourced from NIMAS files. The following changes mean that certain aspects of the AEM Navigator are now outdated:
Definitions of key NIMAS-related terms have been updated.
The NIMAC is now permitted to accept NIMAS files sourced from digital instructional materials.
Second, the U.S. Department of Education recently published a Notice of Interpretation in the Federal Register permitting the NIMAC to accept NIMAS files sourced from digital instructional materials. Previously, as reflected throughout the AEM Navigator, the NIMAC was permitted to accept NIMAS files from print instructional materials only. We are currently working with our stakeholders to develop new guidance and technical assistance to support educators with navigating a student’s need for accessible materials, whether those materials start as print or as digital.
We look forward to providing you with a new version of the AEM Navigator. The timeline primarily depends on when the Library of Congress publishes procedures related to the new term “eligible person.” While we don’t expect to be able to replace the AEM Navigator Online Tool due to the technology now being outdated, we will certainly build the best experience possible for you and your team.
If you have questions or comments regarding upcoming changes to the AEM Navigator, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“…the Department interprets the phrase ‘printed textbooks and related printed core materials’ referred to in the definition of ‘print instructional materials’ in section 674(e)(3)(C) of IDEA (20 U.S.C. 1474(e)(3)(C)) to include digital instructional materials that comply with NIMAS, because that is the primary medium through which many textbooks and core materials are now produced.”