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U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans

Rights and responsibilities of SEAs (Sec. 300.172(b))

Comment: Many commenters expressed concern about allowing States to choose not to coordinate with the NIMAC. A few commenters stated that coordination with the NIMAC should be mandatory for all States. One commenter recommended that the Department strongly encourage States to coordinate with the NIMAC, because it may be difficult for States to provide the assurances required in Sec. 300.172(b)(2) if they choose not to coordinate with the NIMAC. A few commenters recommended that States that cannot demonstrate a past history of providing instructional materials to children with disabilities in a timely manner should be required to coordinate with the NIMAC.

Discussion: It would be inconsistent with section 612(a)(23)(B) of the Act to make coordination with the NIMAC mandatory for all States or to require certain States to coordinate with the NIMAC (e.g., States that do not have a history of providing instructional materials to children with disabilities in a timely manner), as suggested by the commenters. Section 612(a)(23)(B) of the Act provides that nothing in the Act shall be construed to require any SEA to coordinate with the NIMAC.

Changes: None.

Comment: Several commenters requested that the regulations clearly define the process for a State to choose not to coordinate with the NIMAC. A few commenters requested additional details on what assurances States must provide if they choose not to coordinate with the NIMAC. Other commenters requested that State assurances provide the public with information to evaluate the capacity of the State to provide materials to children who are blind or have print disabilities. Some commenters stated that the assurances provided by States that choose not to coordinate with the NIMAC should be done annually and in writing.

Several commenters requested that the regulations provide a means for the public to obtain information about which States choose not to coordinate with the NIMAC. A few commenters requested that the Department publish the assurances made by SEAs that choose not to coordinate with the NIMAC. Some commenters stated that SEAs that choose to coordinate with the NIMAC should be required to provide information to the Department on the LEAs in the State that elect not to coordinate with the NIMAC.

Discussion: Section 300.172(b)(2), consistent with section 612(a)(23)(B) of the Act, requires SEAs that choose not to coordinate with the NIMAC to provide an assurance to the Secretary that the agency will provide instructional materials to blind persons and other persons with print disabilities in a timely manner. As part of a State's application for Part B funds, Sec. 300.100 and section 612(a) of the Act require States to provide assurances to the Secretary that the State has in effect policies and procedures to ensure that the State meets the conditions of eligibility. (The Part B Annual State Application for 2006, OMB No. 1820-0030, can be found at: http://www.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/osep/2006apps.html.)

Therefore, the Department will compile a list of the States that choose to coordinate with the NIMAC and those that do not, and will make this list available on OSEP's monitoring Web site at: http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/monitor/index.html.

Section 612(a)(23)(B) of the Act does not mandate that States coordinate with the NIMAC or place conditions on which States can choose to coordinate with the NIMAC. Therefore, it is unnecessary to require a State's assurance to include information on its capacity to provide instructional materials to children who are blind or have print disabilities, as commenters recommended.

We do not believe it is appropriate to regulate to require States to provide information to the Department on the LEAs in the State that elect not to coordinate with the NIMAC. Under Sec. 300.149 and section 612(a)(11) of the Act, States are responsible for ensuring that LEAs in the State meet the requirements of the Act, including providing instructional materials to blind persons or other persons with print disabilities in a timely manner. As stated in Sec. 300.210 and section 613(a)(6)(B) of the Act, if an LEA chooses not to coordinate with the NIMAC, the LEA must provide an assurance to the SEA that the LEA will provide instructional materials to blind persons or other persons with print disabilities in a timely manner.

Changes: None.

Comment: Some commenters proposed that the regulations require States that choose not to coordinate with the NIMAC to annually report to the public on when children with disabilities receive their materials, how print materials are provided in a timely manner, and the steps the State has taken to ensure that materials will be provided at the same time as materials are provided to children without disabilities. One commenter stated that, if a State chooses not to coordinate with the NIMAC, the State should be required to submit data to the Department on the number of children with print disabilities served by the State and when those children received the accessible version of print instructional materials compared with when other children received their materials. Other commenters recommended that States choosing not to coordinate with the NIMAC should be required to develop and publish their policies and procedures that govern how they maintain and distribute NIMAS files.

Discussion: It would be unfair to impose additional data collection and reporting requirements, such as those requested by the commenters, only on those States that choose not to coordinate with the NIMAC. All States, regardless of whether they choose to coordinate with the NIMAC, must ensure that children with disabilities who need instructional materials in accessible formats receive instructional materials in a timely manner, consistent with Sec. 300.172(b)(3).

Furthermore, even States that choose to coordinate with the NIMAC will need to take steps to ensure that the instructional materials for children eligible to receive print instructional materials derived from NIMAS files are received in a timely manner. As provided in section 674(e)(3)(A) of the Act, the NIMAC is a distribution center for NIMAS files obtained from publishers, SEAs, and LEAs. Section 612(a)(23) of the Act requires SEAs that choose to coordinate with the NIMAC to enter into written contracts with publishers to require the publishers to provide electronic files using the NIMAS to the NIMAC on, or before, delivery of the print instructional materials to the SEA.

The NIMAC is not responsible for converting NIMAS files to the accessible formats needed by the children eligible to receive print instructional materials derived from NIMAS files. All States will need to arrange to have the NIMAS files converted to student-ready versions of instructional materials in the accessible formats needed by these children.

Changes: None.

Comment: One commenter requested that the Department provide information and training to States and LEAs on the NIMAC so that they can make an informed choice regarding whether to coordinate with the NIMAC. Another commenter recommended that the Department provide written guidance for States and LEAs regarding the NIMAS and the NIMAC.

Discussion: The Department recognizes the need to provide information to SEAs and LEAs regarding the NIMAS and the NIMAC and will provide technical assistance through the NIMAS Technical Assistance Center after the Department has approved the NIMAC procedures.

Changes: None.