United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the Technology, Education, and Accessibility in College and Higher Education (“TEACH”) Act February 27, 2014. This bipartisan legislation would help strengthen the accessibility of educational technologies for college students with disabilities. Senator Warren announced her introduction of the legislation at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) hearing on “Promoting College Access and Success For Students With Disabilities.”
HLAA supported the introduction of this bill on the House side and is enthusiastic in our support of the Senate bill. Currently, not all technologies used at colleges and universities are accessible to students with disabilities, even though non-discrimination laws require accessibility. Federal non-discrimination laws were drafted long before the use of electronic instructional materials and other technologies on college campuses became widespread, and they do not contain the performance criteria or specifications that are necessary for accessible electronic materials.
The TEACH Act would require the United States Access Board to develop guidelines for the accessibility of electronic instructional materials and information technologies at institutions of higher learning. The legislation would help colleges select and adopt technologies that can be used by all students, and help create a better market for accessible technologies.
The TEACH Act was previously introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Thomas Petri (R-Wis.). It has been endorsed by disability rights organizations, including the National Federation of the Blind, Association of American Publishers, American Association of People with Disabilities, National Council on Independent Living, National Center for Learning Disabilities, American Council of the Blind , Association for Education and Rehabilitation, Association on Higher Education and Disability, DAISY Consortium, CAST Universal Design for Learning, Hearing Loss Association of America, and National Association of the Deaf.
For more information, see the Press Release.