November 17, 2017

Senators Warren and Hatch Introduce Bipartisan AIM HIGH Act

Legislation Would Improve Accessibility of Higher Education Technology for Students with Disabilities

Fact Sheet (PDF)
Bill Text (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today introduced the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HIGH) Act to develop voluntary guidelines that schools can use to ensure that educational technology is accessible to students with disabilities.  The legislation would establish a commission of stakeholder groups to develop guidelines on accessibility for instructional technologies used by colleges and universities.

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 evaluating the accessibility of electronic materials.

"As new technologies enter university classrooms across the country, it's essential that students with disabilities are able to take advantage of these innovations and fully participate in the college experience with their peers," Senator Warren said. "I'm glad to join Senator Hatch to introduce this bipartisan legislation, which will help colleges select accessible materials that allow all students to succeed."

"Since I took office, I have championed an even playing field in education for students with disabilities," said Senator Hatch. "As technology has evolved, so has the need for students with disabilities to gain access to innovative learning materials. This bill establishes an independent commission that will create high-quality accessibility guidelines to benefit both students with disabilities and institutions of higher education. As a primary author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I'm happy to work with Senator Warren in moving this bill through the legislative process to remove barriers in the classroom for students with disabilities."

"This legislation is critically important to blind Americans and to me personally, as the father of two blind daughters," said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. "We applaud Senators Hatch and Warren for taking this step to give colleges and universities the information they need to provide the equal education to which the blind and other students with disabilities are entitled."

The AIM HIGH Act builds on a 2011 report from the federal Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities, which identified the need for guidelines on accessible electronic instructional materials and technologies.