Bipartisan AIM HIGH Legislation Introduced in the Senate

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The EDUCAUSE-supported Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HIGH) Act was reintroduced in the Senate at the end of 2019.

On December 18, 2019, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) reintroduced the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HIGH) Act (S. 3095). The bill, which is supported by EDUCAUSE, is the Senate companion to the version introduced in the House on December 5.1 S. 3095 differs from the Senate bill introduced last Congress in that it includes a new provision on voluntary guidelines for pilot testing of relevant materials and technologies.

The AIM HIGH Act would establish a commission of representatives from major stakeholder communities (including higher education) to develop voluntary accessibility guidelines for postsecondary instructional materials and related technologies. The commission would also leverage its work on the guidelines to create a list of general IT accessibility standards that would be annotated to clarify their relevance to different aspects of higher education information technology. With the new provision, the commission would have the added responsibility of developing voluntary pilot testing guidelines. The pilot testing guidelines would clarify how institutions should address accessibility needs and requirements in that context. To ensure a consensus-based approach, 75 percent of the commission members would need to approve the release of any of these resources.

Members may recall that EDUCAUSE worked with representatives from the National Federation of the Blind, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Publishers, and the Software and Information Industry Association to develop the new pilot testing language in an effort to replace a provision in the House bill from last Congress that created a legal safe harbor for the use of materials and technologies that fully conform with the developed guidelines. As the safe harbor provision had previously been a barrier to building broader support for the bill, EDUCAUSE is pleased with the incorporation of the new language since it will make the bill appealing to a larger set of lawmakers while providing EDUCAUSE members with a consensus framework to use in piloting new materials and technologies on their campuses.

While the version of AIM HIGH introduced in the Senate last Congress did not include the safe harbor provision, EDUCAUSE and its partner organizations are pleased that the Senators chose to incorporate the new pilot language in the legislation just introduced. S. 3095 has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. EDUCAUSE will keep members apprised of any subsequent progress.

For more information about policy issues impacting higher education IT, please visit the EDUCAUSE Review Policy Spotlight blog as well as the EDUCAUSE Policy page.


  1. Katie Branson, "Accessible Instructional Materials Legislation Reintroduced in the House of Representatives," Policy Spotlight (blog), EDUCAUSE Review, December 10, 2019.

Kathryn Branson is a Senior Associate with Ulman Public Policy.

© 2020 Kathryn Branson. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.