Release Date: 
Friday, August 1, 2008
Chris Danielsen
Public Relations Specialist
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Praises Passage of Higher Education Opportunity Act

Legislation Will Take Steps to Provide Accessible Textbooks to Blind Students

Baltimore, Maryland (August 1, 2008): The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and the largest nationwide organization of blind people in the United States, praised the United States Congress today for passing the Higher Education Opportunity Act.  The legislation establishes a commission to study ways that higher education textbooks in accessible formats such as Braille, audio, or electronic text, depending on the preference of the student, can be provided at the same time that sighted students receive their course materials.

Representative George Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, said: “Representative Grijalva and I thank the National Federation of the Blind for their help in crafting this critical bill, which will help strengthen college opportunities for blind students across America.  All qualified students in this country, including those who are blind, should be able to get an excellent college education that prepares them to succeed, and this legislation will help us fulfill this goal.”

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said: “I’m proud that this bill does so much to help students with disabilities enter and succeed in college.  Thousands of blind students and other students with print disabilities will benefit from the steps we take to ensure that they receive accessible college course materials, and I’m grateful for the Federation’s work in supporting this important provision.”  

“The National Federation of the Blind commends Senator Kennedy and Representatives Miller and Grijalva for their work on this important legislation,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind.  “The lack of accessible course materials must be addressed in order for the blind to compete on a level playing field with their sighted peers.  The Higher Education Opportunity Act is an important first step toward achieving that goal.  The National Federation of the Blind looks forward to taking its place on the study commission created by this landmark legislation to aid the commission in crafting solutions that will ensure that every blind student begins class with course materials in hand, just like every other student.  We will strive to ensure that the work of the commission results in recommendations for a comprehensive system to deliver textbooks in an accessible format of the student’s choice that can be implemented on a nationwide basis.  We eagerly await the day when the recommendations of the commission are enacted into law, completing the historic work that begins today.”