The Federal Quota Program

What is the Federal Quota Program? 

In 1879, Congress enacted the Federal Act to Promote the Education of the Blind to provide specialized educational materials to students who are blind or low vision and is referred to as “The Federal Quota Program.” 

Why is it important? 

Students who are blind or low vision deserve the same opportunities as their sighted peers, especially when it comes to education. Thanks to US Code, Title 20, Chapter 6, The American Printing House for the Blind produces accessible educational materials to help students on their learning journey and prepare them to enter and find success in the workforce. 

Who is APH? 

Since 1858, The American Printing House for the Blind has operated in Louisville, Kentucky as the world’s largest nonprofit organization, creating accessible learning experiences through educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are blind and low vision. 

There is no other place like it. Creating things that make a real difference in people’s lives is what we do. 

What are some examples of what APH produces for students who qualify for the Federal Quota Program? 

APH produces braille, large print, and digital textbooks and tests. For more information visit Technology tools such as braille translation software, digital magnification, and other promising tools are also created at APH. For more on APH products visit  

How does the Federal Quota Program work? 

There are designated Trustees in all the United States and outlying areas who manage Federal Quota accounts and the registration of the students in their program. These trustees participate in a yearly census and then, based on the final registration of students, the government provides federal funds to purchase specialized educational materials. Based on the registration count provided by the Trustee, the funds go into an account that the Trustee uses to purchase educational materials for the students they have registered. 

Most Trustees use a loan program to maximize the use of different products each year since the funds are limited. Once a student no longer needs the materials, they are returned to the Trustee and shared with another student. This process happens every year a student is registered. 

Who is eligible for the yearly census? 

For students to be eligible for registration in the Federal Quota Program, they MUST meet the following criteria: 

  1. Meet the definition of blindness (MDB)—a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less (using a Snellen chart or an acuity determined in Snellen equivalents) in the better eye with the best correction or a peripheral field of vision no greater than 20 degrees, 


Function at the definition of blindness (FDB)—when visual function meets the definition of blindness as determined by an eye care specialist (ophthalmologist or optometrist) or a medical doctor such as a neurologist. Students in this category manifest unique visual characteristics often found in conditions referred to as neurological, cortical, or cerebral visual impairment (e.g., brain injury or dysfunction). 

IF NEITHER are met, students may also be eligible because they: 

Qualify under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) definition of blindness: an impairment in vision, that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance (34 CFR §300.8(c)(13)).* 

  1. Be enrolled in a formally organized public or private, nonprofit educational program of less than college level (educational programs include public, private, and parochial schools and vocational and rehabilitation programs for adults) and have a written education plan. School-aged students (including infants, toddlers, preschool, homebound, home-schooled students) must be enrolled with the registering school or agency on the first Monday in January. Adult students must be registered for at least 120 hours of educational instruction during the preceding calendar year. 

*Your state department of education has determined what definition your state uses to determine eligibility of services under IDEA, and it is recommended that you work with your state’s department of education to ensure those students are included in the APH census when using this criterion. 

How do students register? 

To register a student, you must speak with the Trustee who manages the account where the student resides in your state. APH maintains a directory of EOTs in each state and the accounts they manage. View Trustee directory

Must permission be granted to collect census information about students? 

Permission from parents or guardians is needed for all students under the age of 18 and those over 18 who are under the care of a guardian. Adult students must provide their own permission. Each Trustee has their own paperwork and process. 

Is there an age limit for students? 

There is no chronological age limit for eligibility. Federal law limits registration to persons learning at less than college level but places no restriction on the ages of eligible students. 

How are infants and toddlers registered for the census? 

For infants and toddlers to meet the definition of blindness, a note from their pediatrician or eye care specialist stating their belief they would meet the definition would assist the Trustee in determining eligibility. Any written education plan, including an individual family service plan, may be used.  

Are students who have a plan under Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act eligible for census? 

Students with a plan under Section 504 may qualify if they meet the definition of blindness or function at the definition of blindness. Their plan under Section 504 qualifies as an education plan. 

Are home-schooled students eligible for the census? 

Home-schooled students are eligible for census registration by following their state’s guidelines for home-schooling. Students must have a written education plan and parental permission.  

What if I have further questions? 

Email [email protected].