[Cccnfbw] Fwd: [Nfbnet-students-list] Call To Action: AIM-HEA

Doug Trimble Doug.Trimble at wssb.wa.gov
Mon Sep 26 16:59:24 UTC 2016

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From: Michael D Ausbun via Nfbnet-students-list <nfbnet-students-list at nfbnet.org<mailto:nfbnet-students-list at nfbnet.org>>
Date: September 26, 2016 at 9:36:42 AM PDT
To: "nfbnet-students-list at nfbnet.org<mailto:nfbnet-students-list at nfbnet.org>" <nfbnet-students-list at nfbnet.org<mailto:nfbnet-students-list at nfbnet.org>>
Subject: [Nfbnet-students-list] Call To Action: AIM-HEA
Reply-To: Michael D Ausbun <mausbun at unr.edu<mailto:mausbun at unr.edu>>

Dear Fellow Federationists:
   The moment we, the students, have been waiting for is upon us. The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act (AIM-HEA) has dropped! Now the responsibility of ensuring accessibility is on us, and we do not have a lot of time to delay! Please call (202) 224-2131 and ask to speak to your congressional representative (if you need assistance in locating your congressperson, please use this site: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/). We should be requesting our congress people to cosponsor H.R. 6122. Remember, the sponsor is Congressmen Phil Roe (R. TN).
   No organization moves legislation like we do; now, let us go and show them why accessibility is important to the National Federation of the Blind!
Yours in the movement,
Michael Ausbun, Secretary
Chair, Legislative Committee
National Association of Blind Students
A proud Division of the National Federation of the Blind
"Together with love, hope, and determination, we transform dreams into reality."

Today, the National Federation of the Blind commends Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT) for introducing the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HE) Act (H.R. 6122). This act will promote instructional technology and content that are accessible to the blind and other students with print disabilities.

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."

Congressman 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."

Congressman Courtney said:  "As colleges and universities become more high-tech, it is only fitting that they 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."

The AIM HE Act will authorize a purpose-based commission comprised of persons with disabilities, developers, and manufacturers, as well as representatives from institutions of higher education. This commission will develop voluntary accessibility guidelines for instructional materials used in postsecondary educational programs. Additionally, the commission will be tasked with developing an annotated list of existing national and international information technology standards as an additional resource for institutions of higher education and companies that service the higher education market.

Institutions of higher education that only use technology that conforms with the guidelines will be deemed in compliance with the provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act that pertain to the use of electronic instructional materials, giving them a safe harbor protection from litigation. Colleges and universities will be permitted to use material that does not conform with the guidelines as long as equal access laws are still honored. Conformity with the AIM HE guidelines is only one path to compliance; schools can pursue a different path, but will forfeit the safe harbor legal protection.

The AIM HE Act is a collaborative legislative initiative of the National Federation of the Blind, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Publishers, Educause(r), and the Software and Information Industry Association.

About the National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.
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