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What Does The TEACH Act Mean To The Blind IN 2014?

Posted in Accessability for The Blind

TEACH ACT Progress REportLauren McLarney, Government Affairs Specialist at the  National Federation of the Blind has included a progress report bilow on the TEACH ACT. So, before I share  her progress report it may be helpful for some who may not be aware of the TEACH ACT to learn a little more about what it is and why it is even significant to the blind population.


What Is The TEACH ACT?


According to Wikipedial tthe TEACH ACT is described as follows:


The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002, known as the TEACH Act, is an Act of the United States Congress. The importance of the TEACH Act stems from the previous copyright laws that allow educators to copy documents or use copyrighted materials in a face-to-face classroom setting. Because of the growth of distance education that does not contain a face-to-face classroom setting revisions to these laws, particularly sections 110(2) and 112(f) of the U.S. Copyright Act, needed to be made.

It was signed into law by President George W. Bush on November 2, 2002. The TEACH Act clarifies what uses are permissible with regard to distance education. Furthermore, the TEACH Act outlines what requirements the information technology staff and students of a university must abide by in order to be in compliance with the TEACH Act.

While in some cases Fair Use Doctrine covers compliance to copyright law, the TEACH Act clarifies what compliance measures must be implemented with regard to distance education. This Act permits teachers and students of accredited, nonprofit educational institutions to transmit performances and displays of copyrighted works as part of a course if certain conditions are met. If these conditions are not or cannot be met, in order to be lawful, a use would arguably have to qualify under another exception, such as fair use or the de minimis rule, or be permitted by the copyright holder.


The Progress Reprt…

This afternoon we released a video, “A Lesson on the TEACH Act,” which can be found on NFB’s YouTube page.  It features a few recognizable NABS members, a school rep, an industry rep, a senator, even some NCB staff, you name it!  Our hope is that you will circulate this video to your friends, family, and networks to spread the message about the problem of inaccessible instructional materials and the amazing solution that is the TEACH Act.


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This problem hits home for many of you, especially those of you in high school or higher ed, and yet so many people have no idea what it is like for blind college students or why this problem exists in the first place.  We tried to answer those questions in the video, and used a fun style to sell our solution and inspire others to help.  We are also experimenting with different forms of video description, so here is a short description of “A Lesson on the TEACH Act”:

Beginning segment:  LM is sitting in the auditorium.  First, four random people from the street give their perception of technology and the impact it has had on students with disabilities.  Next, four blind students describe their reality over video conferencing software.  During introductions, cartoon sun rays in different colors swirl behind their head.

Second segment:  LM discusses the TEACH Act.  Towards the end, a ticker runs along the bottom length of the screen repeating “guidelines!…guidelines!…guidelines!” followed by a flashing ticker that reads “no mandates!” and another that reads “no new requirement!”

Third segment: A clip of Lucy France from the University of Montana addressing the 2014 NFB National Convention about the need for more information, and Allan Adler in the Association of American Publishers conference room discussing the importance of guidelines.

Fourth segment: LM narrates checking items off of a checklist.  Pictures of six senators spiral onto the screen.  At the end, LM asks: “Since when have these two ever seen eye-to-eye on anything?” and a giant red question mark appears on the screen.  The checklist is displayed and bipartisan support is checked.  A list of groups that endorse the bill is read, while those names fall from the sky into a pile at the bottom of the screen.  LM says: “That’s pretty much everyone,” and a giant red explanation point appears on the screen.  The checklist reappears and endorsements is checked.  The AIM Commission Report cover page is displayed, and then recommendation #1 is read aloud while the words are highlighted.  LM says: “Not just any recommendation, recommendation #1,” and a giant red #1 appears on the screen. The checklist reappears and data is checked.  Finally, a screenshot of the petition is displayed and the number of signatures is circled.  LM says: “That’s a lot of people,” and a giant red WOW appears on the screen.  The checklist reappears for a final time and public support is checked.

Fifth segment: LM makes a call to action.  Blind students describe why they want Congress to pass the TEACH Act.  Senator Warren appears.  She is seated at a table, filmed from the side, and seems to be in front of an audience speaking into a microphone.

Right now is a critical time:  students just got back to school, Congress just got back to session, and the higher education lobby just came out against our initiative. This video is part of the momentum, so view, share, and TEACH!

Additional Information


NFB President Riccobono’s blog post about ACE’s opposition to the bill?  It summarizes ACE’s position, NFB’s reaction, and our hope for common ground.  You can find it HERE.


Kyle Shachmut’s op-ed that ran in the online version of the Boston Globe?  The NFB of MA President calls out the presidents of institutions of higher education in MA that serve on ACE’s board.  You can read that HERE.





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