RE: Accessible Instructional Materials

Year: 
2012
Resolution Number: 
2012-03

RESOLUTION 2012-03
RE: Accessible Instructional Materials

WHEREAS, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides that students with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education, where all aids and services are designed to meet individual educational needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities; and

WHEREAS, schools at all levels from elementary to postgraduate school have explored or are exploring the possibility of electronic textbooks, mobile access to electronic book information, on-line education and collaboration tools, and other emerging educational technologies to be used as instructional materials; and

WHEREAS, the overwhelming amount of these digital materials is completely inaccessible to the blind, consigning blind students to separate and unequal access to educational material, a direct violation of their federal rights; and

WHEREAS, in order to rectify this discrimination, states try to provide accommodations and modifications to these materials to make them accessible, a remedy that is implemented inconsistently and rarely achieves equal access for the blind student; and

WHEREAS, while a few companies, such as Apple, have incorporated text-to-speech and Braille technology into its product lines during the design phase in order to deliver the content of commercially available e-books to the blind and others with print disabilities, most other developers refuse to take advantage of preexisting and emerging technology to make their products accessible; and

WHEREAS, The Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities brought together students with disabilities, members of the publishing community, experts in the field of technology, and other stakeholders to study the current state of accessible instructional materials for students with disabilities in postsecondary education; and

WHEREAS, one of the AIM Commission’s findings was that students with print disabilities often experience a variety of challenges that result from inaccessible learning materials and/or their delivery systems; and

WHEREAS, the AIM commission recommends that the U.S. Access Board should establish a single unified set of accessibility performance standards for digital documents and their delivery systems, a recommendation supported by members of the publishing industry; and

WHEREAS, the Arizona legislature has already enacted section 15-203 )A) (34) of the Arizona Revised Statutes, which requires Arizona schools to provide alternative instructional materials, this legislation falls short of the AIM commission recommendations and is inconsistently enforced, and

WHEREAS, the AIM commission made other recommendations targeting developers, the U.S. Department of Education, Congress, and schools to take action and remedy this problem, providing direct guidance to these entities, yet none have taken action; NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona in Convention assembled this 9th day of September, 2012, in the city of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization demand accessible e-books and other educational technologies used as instructional materials; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon Congress to authorize the U.S. Access Board to develop a unified set of accessibility guidelines for instructional materials, allowing state purchasing power to provide incentive for manufacturers, drive down costs and clarify market requirements for accessibility; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon developers, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Arizona Department of Education to take action based on the recommendations of the AIM commission report, make accessibility a priority, and protect the rights of the blind students.

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