FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 28, 2014
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
National Federation of the Blind Applauds Senate Introduction of TEACH Act
Senators Warren, Hatch Introduce Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act
Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC (February 28, 2014): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans, applauds Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) for yesterday introducing the Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher Education (TEACH) Act (S. 2060). The TEACH Act, which is the result of collaboration between the NFB and the Association of American Publishers, and which has been endorsed by eleven other organizations of and for people with disabilities, will create accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional materials and related information technologies used by institutions of higher education. The introduction of the bill was announced during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing focusing on college access and success for students with disabilities.
A companion bill, H.R. 3505, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Tom Petri (R-WI) on November 15, 2013. The bills have the same text, making it easier for Congress to pass this simple solution to an outrageous problem.
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Every day, blind college students face frustration and despair in the pursuit of their education because of inaccessible technology. E-readers, Web content, mobile applications, and learning management systems are integral to the twenty-first-century college experience, and students with disabilities are being needlessly left behind. No student can be expected to succeed in college if he or she is denied access to critical course material. Schools and manufacturers must embrace readily available accessibility solutions so that all students can benefit from educational technology, and the guidelines established by the TEACH Act will make it clear how manufacturers and institutions of higher education can best serve students with disabilities. These guidelines are long overdue, and we applaud Senators Warren and Hatch for introducing this critical bill.”
Senator Warren said in a statement: “It’s critically important that university services and course materials remain accessible to students with disabilities as technology advances and changes the way we communicate and learn. I’m pleased to join Senator Hatch to introduce the TEACH Act, which would help promote the use of educational technologies that meet the needs of all students."
Senator Hatch said: “Technological advances have increased educational opportunities for everyone but especially for students with disabilities. However, in order to benefit from these new technologies students need to be able to access them. The TEACH Act promotes the development of guidelines to assist educational institutions in selecting and offering course materials and services that students of all abilities can benefit from, and as someone who helped write the Americans with Disabilities Act, I’m proud to support it.”