Working Together: Advocating for a More Equitable Future

The American Foundation for the Blind was founded 95 years ago by M.C. Migel, a philanthropist who wanted to help the many veterans blinded in World War I. From its inception, AFB has worked collaboratively with lawmakers to expand possibilities for individuals with vision loss. This effort continues today as AFB works tirelessly to advance public policy that improves outcomes for the blind and low-vision community.

Here’s a recap of what we have accomplished in the past year:

  • The White House Conference onA ging is a once-a-decade event. Seizing the opportunity, AFB called upon our policy leaders to address major issues related to aging and vision loss, emphasizing the need for a systematic approach to ensure that older Americans receive training in independent living; obtain critical technologies to enhance their health, independence, and safety; and have access to transportation and other support services. We will build on this foundation to invigorate an action agenda to ensure that people who lose vision as they grow older receive programs and services to remain independent and vital.
  • April 14, 2016, marked the 150th anniversary of Anne Sullivan Macy’s birth. In honor of Helen Keller’s brilliant teacher and inspired advocate, AFB sponsored a call-in day on Capitol Hill. More than 500 supporters urged their members of Congress to sponsor the Cogswell-Macy Act, H.R. 3535, the most comprehensive special education legislation to date for students with sensory disabilities. Once enacted, the legislation will expand resources available to students, parents, and educators.
  • Passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998 granted protection to digital versions of books and other print material from copyright infringement. It also had the unfortunate effect of keeping these materials from readers who are visually impaired. In response, AFB Director of Public Policy, Mark Richert, works with others to fight for temporary exemptions that allow visually impaired readers access to digital texts without fear of violating copyright laws. Richert also continues to work tirelessly to obtain a permanent DMCA exemption.

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