America Promises that students who are blind and visually impaired will have access to the same educational opportunities as their sighted peers.
- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) promises the right of all children with disabilities to receive a "free appropriate public education."
- The Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (1879) was Congress' first promise to students who are blind and visually impaired. Funding is allocated to the American Printing House for the Blind to develop and purchase accessible tools and materials for students across the U.S.
- In FY2017, the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind provided only $269 per student who is blind, working below college level. That is not enough to fulfill our promise.
"APH produces my textbook materials and also technology I really need, like the talking graphing calculator and refreshable braille display that I use to work on assignments and keep up with class."
Ethan, high school
student who is blind
Why we must Keep the Promise NOW
Increased funding is vital to prepare students with vision loss for the 21st century workforce.
- As the primary means of classroom education shifts from paper to digital formats, learning opportunities for students with vision loss will increase when we deliver on our promise of providing the technology they need.
- To Keep the Promise we must support APH's team of engineers as they work in partnership with educational institutions and corporations around the world to design accessible hardware and software, and monitor worldwide standards that promote access to learning and career opportunities.
- This investment in students who are blind and visually impaired now will enable them to gain employment skills and keep their promise to be productive adult taxpayers.
- In the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind of 1879, APH was identified as the official supplier of accessible educational tools and materials for students across the country working below college level.
- APH conducts an annual census of eligible students; researches, develops, and manufactures accessible educational tools and materials; and distributes appropriation funding on a per-capita basis to purchase materials for eligible students through a network of Ex Officio Trustees (EOTs) in each state.
- EOTs in each state administer the Federal Quota funds accounts. These professionals hold the positions of highest executive officer of the state department of education, a school for the blind, or an agency serving the blind, or are appointed by these officers.
- APH, a non-profit, has been a trusted steward of this promise for 160 years.