Press Releases

Roe & Courtney Reintroduce Bill to Ensure Equal Access to Electronic Materials and Technology at Higher Education Institutions

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Washington, March 29, 2017 | Lani Short (202-225-6356) | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Reps. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) reintroduced H.R. 1772, the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HIGH) Act. The bill would establish an independent commission to develop voluntary guidelines for accessible postsecondary electronic instructional materials and related technologies to ensure students with disabilities have access to the same educational materials as non-disabled students.

The commission will be comprised of representatives of persons with disabilities, institutions of higher education, developers and manufacturers of instructional materials, and non-profit organizations that provide accessible electronic materials.

Rep. Roe said:

“No student pursuing their education should be put at a disadvantage because they have a disability, and this bill simply encourages higher education institutions to provide equal access to all instructional materials. With more students’ coursework requiring digital resources, it makes sense to encourage colleges and universities to make accessible material available to support all their students, including those who have a disability. I thank Rep. Courtney for partnering with me on this important issue, and I look forward to moving this bill through the legislative process. I also thank all the stakeholders who have worked so hard to develop a commonsense solution that can be supported on a bipartisan basis.”

Rep. Courtney Said:

“The goal of our bill is to ensure that no student is put at a disadvantage while pursuing a higher education degree because they have a disability. With colleges and universities across the country converting to digital resources, we need to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the tools and resources at the disposal of other students. I want to thank Rep. Roe for once again leading this bipartisan effort with me, and I look forward to working with him to get this measure passed this Congress.”

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said:

"The National Federation of the Blind has worked for years toward the introduction of this much-needed legislation, which will give postsecondary institutions guidance to help them meet their legal obligations to students with disabilities, and also bring more accessible instructional materials to the higher education market. Blind students are adversely impacted daily by educational technologies that artificially limit students because they were designed without accessibility in mind. As a past member of the Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials, whose work identified this crucial need, and a father of three, including two daughters who are blind, I am pleased to see this goal come to fruition. We applaud Congressman Roe and Congressman Courtney for their introduction of this legislation and urge their colleagues to join them in supporting its swift passage."

Ken Wasch, SIIA President, said:

“Technology is often one of the most effective equalizers for students with disabilities. By providing clear and consistent guidance to technology developers, this legislation will help ensure that all students have access to high-quality materials, and will complement existing protections for students with disabilities. SIIA and our member high-tech companies strive to develop innovative digital instructional materials that are accessible by all students, and we commend everyone involved for working together on this important effort.”

The Association of America Publishers, said:

“AAP hopes that supporting this bill with representatives from the disabilities, higher education and tech communities will result in practical guidelines that will lead to more informed cooperation among all stakeholders to ensure the widespread market availability of accessible learning materials and technologies.”

John O’Brien, President and CEO of EDUCAUSE, said:

“Higher education IT leaders and professionals strive to help their institutions achieve continuous improvement in accessibility for persons with disabilities. EDUCAUSE supports the AIM HIGH Act because it would advance this important objective. The voluntary guidelines resulting from AIM HIGH would enable all stakeholder communities to better understand and pursue accessibility in digital learning resources, to the benefit of students and faculty nationwide.”

Molly Corbett Broad, ACE President said:  

“On behalf of the nearly 1,800 college and university president and other higher education leaders we represent, we thank you for introducing the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act (AIM HIGH). Our members believe that equal access to higher education for students with disabilities is a critical issue, and this bill will help institutions to better serve them.”
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Tags: Education