Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act  (H.R. 3535)

Named for the first deaf student to be formally educated in the U.S. and for Helen Keller’s beloved teacher, respectively, the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act will strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to improve results for deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind children, including those with additional disabilities.

On September 17, 2015, a comprehensive Bill to reform the education of deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deafblind students was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sponsored by Congressmen Matt Cartwright (D) and David McKinley (R), H.R. 3535, the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, the bill will amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to address the unique needs of these populations. This is truly a historic event.

The Act includes 3 sections.  Title I addresses issues specific to the education of children who are deaf/hard of hearing,  Title II addresses issues specific to the education of children who are blind/visually impaired, and Title III addresses issues specific to the education of children who are deafblind.  Click Cogswell/Macy Act to read the full text of the Bill.  TITLE III begins on page 40 of the Act and includes wording which:

  • Designates intervener services in the “related services” listing
  • Reflects the need for the recognition of and training for teachers of the deafblind
  • Adapts the federal definition of deafblindness
  • Requires each state to specifically address deafblind issues in the development of its state plan

The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy bill now needs to gain the sponsorship of many more House members, and it needs to be introduced in the Senate. Please take a few moments to contact your Congressional members to ask them to sponsor this bill either by phone or email.   You can find your state Senators by clicking here, and your Members of Congress by clicking here.

If you choose to call, follow these steps:

  1. Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.  The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights provides great information to help you in telephoning your Representative.

  2. When someone answers (or if you reach an answering machine) identify yourself and let them know you’re a constituent.

  3. Ask your member of Congress, and their staff whom you’re likely to speak to, to co-sponsor the Cogswell-Macy Act – H.R. 3535, and ask him/her to get back to you with a response. Point them to the: Cogswell/Macy Act for the full text of the legislation.

If you choose to email, here are sample messages.  Be sure to tailor your message to your particular situation.

Click here for a message to House Members.

Click here for House of Representatives advocacy information.

Click here for a message to Senate Members.

Click here for Senate advocacy information.

Click here for the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act Summary.

For more information contact Linda Alsop or Sally Prouty.