[Athen] In the NEWS - Accessibility Standards

Laurie Vasquez vasquez at sbcc.edu
Tue Mar 12 15:04:35 PDT 2013

FYI NFB Proposes Bill on Accessibility Standards for Digital Instructional

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has released a fact

for proposed national legislation to enact a key recommendation of the
Postsecondary Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Commission
over a year ago. (For more on the AIM Commission, please see the end of
this post.) NFB’s legislative proposal would have Congress direct the U.S.
Access Board, which develops accessibility guidelines under the Americans
with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to establish such
guidelines for digital instructional materials at the postsecondary level,
including related delivery technologies. The proposal would further direct
the U.S. Department of Justice to adopt those guidelines as enforceable
standards under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act. This would make colleges
and universities subject to legal and regulatory sanction if the digital
instructional materials and delivery technologies they deploy do not meet
the standards.

(Whether and how allowances for the “installed base” of digital materials
and technologies would be made, as opposed to the application of standards
to new or replacement deployments, has not yet been presented. However,
such allowances have generally been a part of previous legal and regulatory
developments in the accessibility space. On another concern, institutions
would not see the application of enforceable standards immediately under
the proposal; the development of the guidelines and their adoption as
enforceable standards would most likely take place over a few years.)

In visits to Congress, NFB has identified its “Technology, Education and
Accessibility in College and Higher Education (TEACH) Act” (not to be
confused with the already enacted “Technology, Education and Copyright
Harmonization (TEACH) Act of
as a central piece of its legislative
the current Congress. EDUCAUSE is engaged in discussions with NFB and other
sectors of the higher education community to better understand the proposal
and its potential effects on colleges and universities nationwide.

We will highlight what we learn for our members and other interested
parties as our perspective develops. In the interim, if you have questions
or thoughts on this topic, please share them with me by commenting on this
post or contacting me atjcummings at educause.edu.

*(Note):* The Postsecondary AIM Commission was chartered by Congress in the
2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act to evaluate the state of
accessibility in the market for postsecondary instructional materials,
including the technologies for delivering them, and to make recommendations
to Congress for improveme
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