October 20, 2021
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker
United States House of Representatives
1236 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Madam Speaker:
Thank you for including the provisions of the Access Technology Affordability Act (H.R. 431/S. 212) 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 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 improve economic opportunities for the blind of America.
Speaker Pelosi, thank you for including this critical legislation in the Build Back Better Act. I also extend my sincere thanks to Rep. Richard Neal, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. Mike Thompson, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures and sponsor of the House 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 include the Access Technology Affordability Act 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