McLarney, Lauren LMcLarney at nfb.org
Sat Jun 7 01:03:35 UTC 2014

Hi Friends,

Next week, we need everyone to mobilize for the 
TEACH Act! From Monday through Friday, we will 
run a Republican Blitz, where everybody contacts 
the Republican members of Congress from their 
state delegation and urges them to cosponsor the 
TEACH Act, H.R. 3505 and S. 2060. The goal is to 
get a huge influx of cosponsors.

This is a pivotal time. The TEACH Act is 
non-controversial, but the upcoming elections 
will limit our opportunities to pass the bill 
this Congress. We truly believe this bill has a 
chance, so we are going to take a real shot at 
trying to get this done. Consequently, we’re 
planning an important meeting with a higher 
education association to bring the schools on 
board, and then plan to meet with the Chairman of 
the Education and Workforce Committee to explore 
about our options. We want to go into that 
meeting with the most cosponsors as possible, 
particularly from the majority party. Currently, 
H.R. 3505 has forty-two, with fifteen 
Republicans, twenty-seven Democrats. If we can 
get thirteen more Republicans we will be at 
fifty-five cosponsors and have an almost-even 
twenty-eight/twenty-seven breakdown. S. 2060 just 
got two new cosponsors, Senators Bennet and 
Ayotte. We are at an even two and two (for a 
total of four) and even though the Democrats are 
the majority party in the Senate, we already have 
a few waiting in the wings. We want to keep it 
even and won’t send them on until we secure a few 
more Republicans. Let’s build on this momentum!

A few things to note:
1)      This is a BLITZ. That means we need lots 
of people to send lots of emails, not just one or 
two people. Even if it’s not your member of 
Congress, if they are a Republican in your state 
delegation, email them! Let’s make it a digital 
version of the Washington Seminar, but just limited to the Republican offices.
2)      Send your correspondence to the education 
staffer. If you don’t know who the education 
staffer is, just call the office and ask, or shoot me an email.
3)      Know your audience. Some things are 
universal to advocacy, like telling your personal 
story and explaining what the bill does, but the 
points you emphasize to a Democrat might not be 
the best points to emphasize to a Republican. For 
the TEACH Act, it’s best to emphasize how the 
guidelines are voluntary, that we are trying to 
help schools better comply with the law and avoid 
litigation, which in turn helps blind students, 
and that the industry supports the bill.
4)      Personalize your letters. Offices know a 
block/form letter when they see one. I’ve 
provided a sample letter below, but please make 
edits before sending. If you’re from a state 
where a particular school has faced a lawsuit 
related to this, add it in. If another Republican 
from your state has cosponsored, mention it.
5)      Feel free to tweet or call, but in 
addition to emails rather than as a substitute. 
Some sample tweets: “Blind students need access 
to materials, help spur the market! Cosponsor the 
#TEACHAct” or “Blind students are being left 
behind and schools are being sued. The #TEACHAct 
is an easy fix. Will you cosponsor?” or “When 
blind students get to college, we need books. 
Publishers support the #TEACHAct, do you?” or 
“Congressman X and Congressman X have cosponsored 
the #TEACHAct. Join your delegation!” or even 
“Support Mr. Petri before he retires by 
cosponsoring #TEACHAct, a bill that improves 
access for the blind in higher ed!”

I’ll be sending out reminders periodically next 
week. I hope everyone can help us reach our goal 
and we can increase the chances of passing the 
TEACH Act. Let’s face it, not only is the bill 
non-controversial, but blind students cannot afford to wait. Thanks guys!


Sample letter:

Hello [Education Staffer’s first name],

I am writing on behalf of the National Federation 
of the Blind of [your affiliate]. We last met 
with your office in January to discuss our 
legislative agenda, and one of those bills was 
the Technology, Education and Accessibility in 
College and Higher Education (TEACH) Act, H.R. 
3505/S.2060. It has been a few months so I wanted 
to circle back and ask that 
Congressman/Congresswoman [Name] will come on as 
a cosponsor. The bill is non-controversial and 
bipartisan – can we count on [his/her] support?

A quick reminder: Inaccessible educational 
technology is creating profound barriers to 
education for students with disabilities. The 
TEACH Act authorizes the creation of voluntary 
accessibility guidelines for instructional 
material so that those materials are usable by 
students with print disabilities, and then 
incentivizes schools to use technology that 
conforms to the guidelines with a safe harbor 
from litigation. The goal of the guidelines is to 
facilitate the equal access mandates that require 
schools to use accessible materials by 
stimulating the creation of a viable digital 
marketplace. By facilitating the national mandate 
and the national market, we can provide equal 
access for blind students without infringing on 
states’ rights. This bill is appealing to those 
on both sides of the aisle, is endorsed by a 
major industry group, and is supported by data 
from a Congressionally-authorized study. The 
TEACH Act does not create any new liability for 
schools or create any mandates on technology 
companies, and reduces costs and litigation while 
still making systemic change for blind students. 
[H.R. 3505/S. 2060] is sponsored by [Tom Petri in 
the House/our Republican leader is Orrin Hatch] – 
will your boss join them as a cosponsor?

Over 160,000 people, many from our state, have 
signed this petition on Change.org, 
showing widespread support for this modest 
approach to a disgraceful problem. Blind students 
can’t afford to wait, so please let me know if 
there are questions. For more information, please 
visit https://nfb.org/TEACH. Thanks, hope to hear from you!

[Your name]

Lauren McLarney
Government Affairs Specialist
National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
410.659.9314 ext. 2207
LMcLarney at nfb.org

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 have the life you 
want; blindness is not what holds you back.

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