The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HE) Act
The AIM HE Act:
1) Authorizes a purpose-based commission to develop accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional materials and related information technology so that those materials are accessible to students with print disabilities. Additionally, the commission will develop an annotated list of national and international accessibility standards so that schools and developers can identify what makes a product usable by the blind.
2) Provides an incentive for schools to follow the guidelines by offering a safe harbor from litigation. Any school that only uses technology that conforms to the guidelines will be in compliance with current disability laws. For those instances where accessible technology is simply not yet available, instances that will continue to diminish in frequency as accessible instructional materials become more mainstream, there is a limited safe harbor protection for institutions that otherwise adhere to existing disability law as well as certain additional requirements as described in the AIM HE Act.
3) Restates that schools are still obligated to meet the equal access mandate under current law. Guidelines are one voluntary path to compliance with the law, but schools are permitted to pursue other paths to compliance (although those paths do not come with the legal protections of a safe harbor or limited safe harbor). This offers flexibility and leaves room for innovation without compromising print disabled students’ right to equal access.
The AIM HE Act addresses the problem of inaccessible instructional materials in post-secondary education. Technology holds the promise of equal access for students with disabilities, but the overwhelming majority of university websites, digital books, PDFs, learning management systems, lab software, and online research journals are inaccessible to students with print disabilities. Through the AIM HE Act’s collaborative legislative approach, with direct input from people with disabilities, non-profit organizations that service our community, institutions of higher education, and developers and manufacturers of these technologies, the AIM HE Act will revolutionize digital accessibility of postsecondary electronic instructional materials.
Organizations and Institutions That Have Endorsed the AIM HE Act
- American Association of People with Disabilities
- American Council on Education
- Association of American Publishers
- Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs
- Association of University Centers on Disabilities
- Association on Higher Education and Disability
- National Center for Learning Disabilities
- National Center on Disability and Access to Education
- National Federation of the Blind
- Ramapo College of New Jersey
- Software & Information Industry Association
- University of Nevada, Reno
- Wake Forest University
- WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind)
The AIM HE Act is a collaboration of the NFB, the Association of American Publishers, the American Council on Education, Educause®, and the Software and Information Industry Association.
For more information: Gabe Cazares, Government Affairs Specialist, National Federation of the Blind, (410) 659-9314 extension 2206.