Braille Monitor                                     March 2017

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Washington Seminar Legislative Agenda of Blind Americans Priorities for the 115th Congress, First Session

The National Federation of the Blind is a community of members and friends who believe in the hopes and dreams of the nation’s blind. Every day we work together to help blind people live the lives we want.

The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HE) Act

Electronic instructional materials have replaced traditional methods of learning in postsecondary education, but the overwhelming majority of ebooks, courseware, web content, and other technologies are inaccessible to students with print disabilities. The law requires equal access in the classroom but fails to provide direction to schools for the way it applies to technology. AIM HE creates voluntary accessibility guidelines for educational technology to improve blind students’ access to course material, stimulate the market, and reduce litigation for schools.

The Access Technology Affordability Act

Currently, blind Americans rely on scarce sources of funding to acquire access technology. By providing a refundable tax credit for qualifying access technology purchases, Congress can stimulate individual procurement of access technology and promote affordability of these tools for blind Americans.

Appropriation to the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) for the Purchase of Refreshable Braille Devices

Established in 1931, the NLS provides its patrons with accessible format copies of printed works. With the latest innovations in refreshable Braille, it is now easier than ever before to put Braille into the hands of more blind people. A one-time appropriation to the NLS will save money and lead to the proliferation of critically needed Braille material for blind Americans.

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled

Despite the ability to convert print books into accessible formats like Braille, large print, audio, and digital copies, millions of blind and otherwise print-disabled Americans are excluded from accessing 95 percent of published works. The Marrakesh Treaty calls for contracting parties to provide, in their national copyright laws, for a limitation or exception that allows for the reproduction, distribution, and cross-border exchange of accessible works.

These priorities will remove obstacles to employment, education, and access to published works. We urge Congress to support our legislative initiatives.

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