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Reps. Roe, Courtney Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Disabled Students Have Equal Access to Educational Materials

December 5, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Reps. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) reintroduced the bipartisan Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HIGH) Act. This legislation would establish an independent commission to develop voluntary guidelines for accessible postsecondary electronic instructional materials and related technologies to ensure students with disabilities have access to the same materials as non-disabled students. 

The commission will be comprised of representatives of persons with disabilities, institutions of higher education, developers and manufacturers of instructional materials and non-profit organizations that provide accessible electronic materials.

“As technology advances, and more coursework requires digital resources, we need to ensure this transition does not leave students with disabilities at a disadvantage,” said Congressman Roe. “All students deserve the opportunity to excel in their education, which is why I am proud to reintroduce the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HIGH) Act, legislation that encourages institutions of higher education to provide equal access to all instructional materials, which will support students with disabilities. I want to thank Rep. Courtney for again partnering with me on this important legislation, and all the stakeholders who have worked tirelessly to develop this commonsense solution that can be supported on a bipartisan basis. I am hopeful our colleagues will come together on this issue and help students with disabilities achieve their goals.”

“The goal of our bill is to ensure that no student is put at a disadvantage while pursuing a higher education degree because they have a disability,” said Congressman Courtney. “Colleges and universities across the country are converting to digital resources, and we need to ensure that students with different needs have equal access to the same tools and resources that other students have at their disposal. I want to thank Congressman Roe for once again leading this bipartisan effort with me, and I look forward to working with him and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this measure passed this Congress.”

“This legislation is critically important to all blind students and to me personally, as the father of three children, two of whom are blind,” said Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “This issue has been ignored for too long. Blind Americans applaud Representatives Roe and Courtney for their support of this market-based approach to encouraging technology innovations to be born accessible, thus allowing all students an equal opportunity for educational excellence.”

“SIIA and our member companies are committed to ensuring all students have access to innovative digital instructional materials. Representatives Roe and Courtney and their staff have been tireless advocates for the principles of this legislation – making sure accessible learning materials are available to students. SIIA is pleased to support this legislation alongside important stakeholders including the American Council on Education, Association of American Publishers, EDUCAUSE, and National Federation of the Blind. We urge Congress to pass this legislation,” Jeff Joseph, President of Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), said.

“The Association of American Publishers (AAP) welcomes the bipartisan reintroduction of the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HIGH) Act by Reps. Roe and Courtney.,” said Allan Adler, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Association of America Publishers. “Our member publishers understand how critical access to high-quality learning materials is to student success, which is why we have shepherded this legislation for years along with our partner organizations representing disabilities advocates and the higher education and technology communities. With the combined support of these groups, enactment of the AIM HIGH Act should result in a set of voluntary guidelines designed by experts to enable stakeholders to work more effectively together towards achieving their shared goal of making accessible digital instructional materials readily available in the marketplace for postsecondary students with disabilities.”

“EDUCAUSE appreciates the continued commitment of Representatives Roe and Courtney to advancing the AIM HIGH Act,” said John O’Brien, President and CEO of EDUCAUSE. “This bill would bring together all major stakeholders—students with disabilities and their advocates, higher education leaders and professionals, content publishers, and software and technology developers—to collaborate in establishing voluntary accessibility guidelines for postsecondary instructional materials and related technologies that we can all support. On behalf of EDUCAUSE member institutions, I would like to thank Representatives Roe and Courtney for reintroducing AIM HIGH. EDUCAUSE looks forward to working with them and the other members of Congress who join the effort to see this important legislation passed into law.”

“Colleges and universities have a critical responsibility to ensure that all students receive an equal opportunity to earn a college degree,” said Ted Mitchell, President of ACE. “That is why the American Council on Education and our over 1,700 members are grateful to Representatives Roe and Courtney for reintroducing the AIM HIGH Act in this Congress. This bill would create voluntary guidelines for institutions to reference when employing accessible instructional materials, helping institutions best meet the needs of students with disabilities. These guidelines would be created through a process involving all key stakeholders, ensuring that they address every community’s concerns. We thank Representatives Roe and Courtney for their work on this important legislation, and look forward to working with them and their bipartisan cosponsors to see the bill advance into law.”