Below are answers to the most commonly asked questions about the Nebraska Instructional Resource Center:
Nebraska Instructional Resource Center
What is NIRC?
The Nebraska Instructional Resource Center (NIRC) is a statewide repository comprising of equipment and materials purchased by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). Equipment and materials found in NIRC may be requested by teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs) serving Nebraska schools districts and ESUs for the students who are identified as blind or visually impaired. Items from NIRC may be loaned to school districts and ESUs for students who are determined to be legally blind, per APH Federal Quota guidelines. Equipment and materials for student who are partially sighted may be loaned to school districts and ESUs depending on availability, however, priority will remain for students who are legally blind. In collaboration with TVIs, NCECBVI staff will determine which items will be loaned based on what is requested, items appropriate for the student, and equipment and materials availability.
Federal Quota Program
What is the Federal Quota Program?
In 1879, the U.S. Congress enacted a bill providing adapted educational materials to eligible students who meet the definition of blindness. The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) was designated as the administrator of the Federal Quota Program. The annual registration of eligible students determines a per capita amount of Quota Funds that are credited to each state’s account at APH. This money is designated for the purchase of books and instructional materials produced by APH.
How much federal money is appropriated per registered student each year?
Approximately $300 is appropriated per registered student.
Does this money belong to the student/school district?
No, the funds are pooled in an account at APH and used by NIRC to purchase materials for eligible students upon request.
Who is Eligible for the Federal Quota Program?
In order for students to be registered in the Federal Quota Program, they must meet the following requirements:
- Have documentation of legal blindness (current within the last 3 years) on file with a Teacher of the Visually Impaired.
- A most recent Date of Eye Exam should be included on the Federal Quota Registration Form for each student. A check box for immutable is included on the form.
- Be enrolled in a public or private, nonprofit educational program of less than college level.
- Be enrolled with the registering school or agency on the first Monday in January.
- Be between the ages of Birth to 21 years.
- Have a written education plan.
- Who is eligible?
What is the definition of legal blindness?
For Federal Quota Registration purposes, an individual is considered legally blind if either of these criteria is met:
- Meets the definition of blindness (MDB). - That is, has a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with best correction or a peripheral field of vision no greater than 20 degrees.
- Functions at the definition of blindness (FDB) - For Educational Purposes, when visual performance being reduced by brain injury or dysfunction so that visual acuity is not possible to determine using the Snellen Chart. An eye care provider determines that this student meets the definition of blindness for educational purposes.
When does registration take place?
Each January, registration information is emailed to teachers of the visually impaired in each school district or ESU. Registration materials are due back to NIRC by February 15th.
Do I need to wait until the annual registration to send in a form for a new student?
No, you should send a Federal Quota Registration Form to the NIRC staff as soon as a student in your district is identified as legally blind, and annually. You may begin accessing NIRC’s resources immediately.
What is the Registration of Blind Students?
The Registration of Blind Students is a list of students with visual impairment within each school district currently registered for the Federal Quota Program. This list is generated annually by the American Printing House for the Blind. NIRC will provide current information annually. The current Registration of Blind Students needs to be updated by the Teacher of the Visually Impaired and returned to the NIRC staff by February 15.
What documentation of blindness do I need to send NIRC?
Eye doctor and neurologist reports verifying blindness do not need to be sent to NIRC, but must be on file where the student is enrolled. It is recommended that the Tool to Request Vision Information be completed by the doctor to assist you in determining the child’s visual status.
Do students need to be reverified each year?
Yes. The registration status of all visually impaired students is reviewed annually, as APH lobbies for Federal Quota dollars on behalf of students with visual impairment. There MUST be a current eye report within the last 3 years on file with a Teacher of the Visually Impaired at the school district, and the date of the most recent eye exam should be included on the federal quota registration form.
Are there any exceptions to the 3 year eye report rule?
An exemption from the current 3-year eye report regulation may be made for students with proven non-changing eye conditions. This exemption should be used only when the DOCTOR has determined that the visual condition is immutable. In this case, "immutable" should be checked on the federal quota registration form, next to the date of the last exam.
Can homeschooled students be registered?
Yes, if the home school program meets the guidelines and/or procedures in effect within each individual state, and has a written education plan.
Can homebound students be registered?
Yes, if they are enrolled in a formally organized, regularly scheduled educational or training program and have a written education plan.
Can students verified as partially sighted be registered?
No, not in the Federal Quota Program. However, if they are registered using the federal quota registration forms during the annual registration, NIRC will place them on a partially sighted list of students that will allow access to materials currently not in use by a legally blind student.
What types of books are available?
NIRC’s inventory contains both braille and large print textbooks, literary books, and professional development books.
Does NIRC have audio books?
No. However, a list of electronic book sources can be provided upon request to the NIRC staff.
What adapted instructional materials are available?
Every item included in APH’s Instructional Products Catalog is available from NIRC except for a few items listed as “Not Available with Quota Funds.” These items may be purchased directly from APH by an individual or educational agency.
Can I view NIRC’s inventory online?
Yes. The Online Catalog may be accessed here on the NCECBVI web site.
What is the cost to access materials from NIRC?
There is absolutely no charge.
If an item borrowed from NIRC is consumed, lost or destroyed is there a fine?
Local Education Agencies may incur replacement costs for items consumed, lost or destroyed.
Are any materials considered consumable?
Yes, some items are considered consumable. You will be informed upon order if the items are to be consumed, or returned in original condition. Contact the NIRC staff if you are unsure if an item is consumable.
Can partially sighted students access NIRC’s materials?
Yes, they have access to any books or materials in NIRC’s inventory which are not currently being used by a legally blind student. Items loaned to students with partial sight may be recalled when the need arises for a student with legal blindness.
Who can place requests?
Teachers of the Visually Impaired place orders with NIRC for their students when they determine an item is appropriate for their educational needs.
How do I place a request?
The Online Catalog may be accessed here on the NCECBVI web site. If you have any questions about making a catalog request, please contact NIRC staff.
Is there a limit to the number of materials I may request?
So far, NIRC has been able to supply all items requested for legally blind students. However, with the rising costs of materials, NIRC will be implementing a Try B4U Buy program, and other cost-effective strategies in order to be fiscally responsible while at the same time meeting the needs of students. *Note that partially sighted students are limited to what is currently in our inventory or what materials may be borrowed. Items loaned to the students with partial sight may be recalled when the need arises for a student with legal blindness.
How long will it take before I receive requested materials?
If a requested item is in NIRC’s inventory and not checked out by another student, the turn-around time should be approximately one week. An exception to this may occur when the school year is beginning and large quantities of orders are placed, or an item has to be ordered, borrowed, or sourced.
How will materials be shipped to me?
Materials are shipped FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND through the U.S. Postal Service.
Does the student/school district own the requested materials?
No, all materials belong to the state as a whole. Possession will be determined utilizing an Inventory Recall system between NIRC and the borrowing agency.
Do borrowed materials need to be returned at the end of each year?
An Inventory Recall is mailed in April each year asking patrons to inform NIRC of which items being returned and which items will be kept for the next school year.
How do I return materials?
All items can be returned through the U.S. Postal Service as FREE MATTER FOR THE BLIND. Keep the original boxes, and use the red return address label that is included in each box upon delivery.
When should I place book requests for next school year?
Braille books need to be ordered as early as possible to ensure timely delivery.
How can I request digital NIMAS files from NIMAC for my student?