Pass TEACH Act: Equal Access to Educational Materials for Students with Disabilities
  • Petitioning U.S. Senate
  • Responded

This petition will be delivered to:

U.S. Senate
U.S. House of Representatives
Wisconsin-01
Rep. Paul Ryan
See response
California-17
Rep. Mike Honda
See response

Pass TEACH Act: Equal Access to Educational Materials for Students with Disabilities

    1. Jamie Principado
    2. Petition by

      Jamie Principado

      Littleton, United States

As a blind college student, I know firsthand what it's like to go to class and not have the accessible materials needed to learn. Each day blind college students are dropping out of classes, abandoning long-held dream career plans, and failing to graduate - not because of lack of abilities, intellect or work ethic - but because of the lack of commitment by institutions of higher education to abide by the law. Congress must pass legislation that creates accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional materials used in postsecondary education. 

The Technology, Education and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act (HR 3505) will provide equal access to educational materials to students with disabilities across the country. The new TEACH Act guidelines will offer a direct path for schools towards compliance with current disability law, and gives directions to manufacturers which will increase the number of affordable, accessible options in the marketplace.  

Leaps in technology are bringing new forms of educational materials like digital books, learning management systems, interactive web content and electronic PDFs to replace traditional instructional materials like hand-outs and textbooks. The print world is inherently inaccessible to a blind person, but this digital transformation creates opportunity to expand the circle of participation and eliminate the need for specialized accommodations. Yet the overwhelming majority of these materials are not designed to include or be compatible with assistive software, such as text-to-speech, denying blind students access to information that is so readily available to their sighted peers.

Unfortunately, this is a widespread problem. Any blind or print disabled student can recount their experiences of starting class without a textbook, having to complete homework without access to the assignment information, or being unable to check for grades or post to discussion boards for students and instructors, because the university’s web system is inaccessible.  The college experience, which has become one of the most formative experiences in our society, is a nightmare for many.  

The TEACH Act is based on the recommendation of a Congressionally-authorized study; it creates no new legal mandate for schools and has the official support of the publishing industry.  These guidelines are sorely needed to protect equality in the classroom for blind and print disabled students. Will you remove these barriers for blind students and cosponsor this important legislation? 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Decision-maker Paul Ryan responds:

      Paul Ryan

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on H.R. 3505, The Technology, Education, and Accessibility in College and Higher Education (TEACH) Act. You raised some good points about the need to improve education for the blind and disabled, and I...


    2. Reached 150,000 signatures
    3. Decision-maker Mike Honda responds:

      Mike Honda

      Jamie, thank you for bringing attention to this issue. My heart goes out to you, and to every college student who’s been held back because of a lack of support for their disability. In the 21st century, when higher education has become in...


    4. Reached 75,000 signatures

    Supporters

    @Learning_Ally

    Feb 03, 2014

    Blind student's petition: Pass TEACH Act: Equal Access to Educational Materials 4 Students w/Disabilities http://t.co/9925VuC9tt

    Learning Ally
    4.42k followers

    @NFB_voice

    Jan 27, 2014

    Congressman Tom Petri, who introduced the #TEACHAct, is now addressing #NFBWS14. Photo of him at podium: http://t.co/9TrJZYVRSm

    NFB
    4.43k followers

    @idbonline

    Jan 27, 2014

    Petition supports bill to provide equal access to educational materials to students with disabilities in the USA. http://t.co/4htmDUeKji

    Dept. for the Blind
    1.8k followers

    @NFBK

    Jan 27, 2014

    It is an unfortunate, and all too common occurrence, that blind students pursuing a college degree, are faced by... http://t.co/eDLpmDHlWc

    NFB of Kentucky
    293 followers

    @NFBMA

    Jan 25, 2014

    support equal access to educational materials for students with disabilities: @NFB_Voice #a11y #students #edchat https://t.co/sGne6F2D1M

    NFB of Massachusetts
    878 followers

    Reasons for signing

    • Barbara Chead;e CATONSVILLE, MD
      • 3 days ago

      I know first hand the need for this legislation: I am an academic librarian and have seen first-hand the unfair disadvantage the lack of access creates for students with print disabilities, and I am the mother of a blind son.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Michelle Overton BRANDYWINE, MD
      • 5 days ago

      All children deserve the right to a free and appropriate eduction which includes access to curriculum, technology and other resources to help them learn and become productive members of society. The USA has fallen way behind other countries and our future success depends on all children.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • kenneth warmke PORTLAND, OR
      • 10 days ago

      it empowers students, who might otherwise not have, to get an education that they are just as deserving of

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Felix Tempest PORTLAND, OR
      • 16 days ago

      I had several blind classmates in college and they had an inordinate amount of difficulty in acquiring the tools they needed just to take classes and study. The message that sends is that disabled students are not welcome in higher education, and it waters down the idea that a degree is based on merit.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Sebastian Espinoza MIAMI, FL
      • 18 days ago

      It is my belief that all people including those whom possess disabilities of any kinds should have all the educational materials that standard kids have. It should be by law that all kids that have disabilities should have the proper setting that would allow them to thrive as well including if they require additional time or a modified setting.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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