Remove Barriers to Classroom Equality: Ensure Accessibility of Instructional Materials

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 career plans, and failing to graduate, not because of lack of abilities, intellect, or work ethic, but because of the lack of guidelines that outline what digital accessibility looks like. I also know what it’s like to be in an educational environment where accessibility is an integral component of the procurement and design process. Unfortunately, the latter is currently the exception, not the rule for many blind students. Not always because colleges and universities don’t want to do the right thing, but because they lack the guidance needed to know what makes a product usable by students who are blind and print disabled.

Congress must pass legislation that enables the creation of voluntary accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional materials used in postsecondary education. The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act will provide the technical and functional criteria that both institutions of higher education, and developers and manufacturers of educational technologies need. Moreover, these voluntary accessibility guidelines will be developed by the stakeholder communities they aim to benefit.

With an 18% employment rate among people with disabilities, students with disabilities cannot afford to be left behind by the very technology that has the potential to expand the circle of participation and include them in an unprecedented way. We, the undersigned, call on the Leaders of both chambers of Congress, and of both the Republican and Democratic parties, to move forward in good faith to provide relief to the tens of thousands of blind and print disabled students who are being unnecessarily burdened by inaccessible electronic instructional materials at institutions of higher education nation-wide.

Furthermore, we call upon President Donald J. Trump to promptly and unequivocally commit to supporting this legislation, and strongly urge its swift passage.

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Jamie Principato started this petition with a single signature, and now has 1,558 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.