October 20, 2021
The Honorable Chuck Schumer, Majority Leader
United States Senate
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader Schumer:
We greatly appreciate the fact that the Access Technology Affordability Act (H.R. 431/S. 212) has been included in the Build Back Better Act, H.R. 5376, Section 138516. This small provision will dramatically increase the availability of access technology used by blind Americans. We urge Congress to ensure the Access Technology Affordability Act remains in the final version of the Build Back Better Act as it moves through the legislative process.
The high cost of access technology has had a significant and detrimental impact on the lives of blind Americans. The Access Technology Affordability Act, which has broad bipartisan support, creates a $2,000 refundable tax credit for use over a three-year period for the purchase of qualified access technology. In an age when more Americans are connected by technology than ever before, the access technology that enables blind and low-vision Americans to share in that connection is critical, but the harsh reality is that the specialized nature of this technology creates a difficult financial barrier to overcome. Devices like refreshable Braille displays and Braille embossers, as well as software like screen-reading programs can frequently cost several thousand dollars. The Access Technology Affordability Act would help to ease this financial burden and give blind Americans the ability to purchase the technology we need to succeed. This would, in turn, give us the ability to apply to more jobs, give us the tools to better connect with our communities, and give our children the technology needed to keep up with their schoolwork. I can think of no better way to improve economic opportunities for the blind of America.
I extend my sincere thanks to Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Finance Committee, and Senator Ben Cardin, the sponsor of the Senate bill. Their steadfast support of this bill and commitment to improve the lives of blind Americans is greatly appreciated. On behalf of all blind Americans, we urge Congress to ensure the Access Technology Affordability Act remains in the final version of the Build Back Better Act and to enact this legislation as soon as possible.
Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind
CC: Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Committee on Finance
Senator Ben Cardin