Roe Introduces Bill to Ensure Equal Access to Electronic Materials and Technology at Higher Education Institutions
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Reps. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) introduced H.R. 6122, the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM-HE) 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 and more of a student’s 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:
“As colleges and universities become more high-tech, it is only fitting that find ways to improve learning opportunities for persons with disabilities. This is why I was pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation to help make educational materials more accessible to the disabilities community. I want to thank Rep. Roe for taking up this cause with me because there is nothing more important than making sure all Americans, including those with disabilities, have the opportunity to receive a great education.”
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 the Congressmen and stakeholders involved for working together on this important effort.”
Tom Allen, President and CEO of AAP, said:
"AAP’s General Counsel Allan Adler has worked for many years with the NFB, ACE and EDUCAUSE to make accessible learning materials and technologies more available for students with disabilities. Educational publishers understand that learning materials are a critical component of student success, and the introduction of this legislation is an important step in the process of increasing the commercial availability of accessible instructional materials in higher education. We urge its swift passage.”
John O’Brien, president and chief executive officer of EDUCAUSE, said:
“EDUCAUSE appreciates the leadership of Representatives Roe and Courtney in introducing the AIM-HE Act. The higher education IT community shares their goal of continuous improvement in the accessibility of digital learning resources. We are pleased to support AIM-HE, which will lead to voluntary guidelines institutions and companies can use to advance accessibility as they continue to innovate.”
Terry W. Hartle, ACE senior vice president for government and public affairs said:“The American Council on Education (ACE) believes that equal access to higher education for students with disabilities is a critical issue. That is why ACE strongly supports the introduction of the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act (AIM-HE). Inclusion is a core value of higher education. We believe this legislation provides a path forward to better serve students with disabilities by working to increase accessibility and equal opportunities to learn. We are grateful to Reps. Phil Roe (R-TN) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) for leading on this issue. We look forward to the work of the commission that is created by this legislation, and will work with Congress and our member institutions to ensure that this important bill is passed.”