The Federal Quota Program: Providing Materials and Technology for Blind Students

Registration Deadline is January 25

Ensuring access to the right materials and technology for students who are blind or visually impaired is a priority for the Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials (AT&AEM) Center at OCALI.

“It is essential for students with visual impairments to have their materials at the same time as their classmates,” explains Lisa Goshe, teacher for the visually impaired in Columbus City Schools. “It’s an issue of equity. It’s an issue of allowing them to be engaged in their learning. If you don’t have your materials in front of you, how do you engage? It lets students be active learners in the moment and gain the most out of the lesson that’s going on.”

girl reading braille book with text "Federal Quota Registration"
Ensuring access to the right materials and technology for students who are blind or visually impaired is a priority for the AT&AEM Center at OCALI.

Each year, the AT&AEM Center at OCALI conducts the Federal Quota Registration of Blind Students on behalf of the Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Exceptional Children, to qualify students for the federal quota allotment of funds to purchase accessible educational materials (AEM). These include textbooks and equipment available from the American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. (APH) for each registered student.

Dating back to the 1800’s, the Federal Quota Act was created for the “specific purpose of ‘manufacturing and furnishing books and other materials specially adapted for instruction’ for students who are blind in the United States and its Territories. As the first law enacted by Congress to support the education of students with visual disabilities, it has become a landmark.”

“There’s a wide range of resources and tools available through the Federal Quota program,” said Rachel Schultz, AEM Specialist. “The American Printing House for the Blind is the sole provider of those materials and they have anything from braille textbooks, devices such as refreshable braille notetakers or the Perkins brailler, and they have other assistive technology devices, table magnifiers such as the MATT Connect, and manual and digital magnifiers. There’s really a wide range of products that students can access through the Federal Quota program.”

In early December, a packet of materials from the Ohio Department of Education was mailed to superintendents requesting them to register each student who is legally blind and attending school in their district. Braille and large print textbooks and other specialized materials are expensive, so it is important to register each eligible student. The deadline to register is Friday, January 25, 2019.

Once registration forms are submitted, the AT&AEM Center then administers the allocation based on the number of registered Ohio students who are legally blind. As early as March, teachers can start requesting materials from the AT&AEM Center for their students for the following school year. Once requests come in, OCALI uses the supplemental funds to process and fulfill those requests. Then, teachers receive their materials and can start using them right away with their students.

2019 Eligibility Requirements

For a complete list of 2019 eligibility guidelines, registration form, tips, and more, visit https://ataem.org/obtaining-aem/federal-quota.  

Questions?

Contact Kelly Houston at kelly_houston@ocali.org, (614) 410-1039 or Judy Siens at judy_siens@ocali.org, (614) 410-1041.