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What is Federal Quota?

The Federal Act to Promote the Education of the Blind was enacted by Congress in 1879. This Act set up a system to provide free textbooks and  other hands-on instructional materials for students who were blind across the U.S. The Act named the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) as the sole, national central source of these educational materials.

Today the Act continues to be a means for providing adapted instructional materials to eligible students and adults in the United States and its territories. An annual registration of eligible individuals determines a per capita amount of money designated for the purchase of instructional materials produced by the American Printing House for the Blind. These funds are credited to Federal Quota accounts, which are maintained and administered by APH and its Ex Officio Trustees throughout the country.

Initially, APH was chartered to emboss tactile books and to produce simple “tangible apparatus.” Today, APH continues this proud tradition by producing hundreds of textbooks in a variety of media and by manufacturing and maintaining an extensive inventory of commercially-unavailable instructional kits, aids, tools, supplies, software, and electronics.

Who is eligible?

There is no chronological age limit for eligibility. In order to be eligible for registration in the Federal Quota Program, students and adults must meet the following requirements:

Meet the Definition of Blindness (MDB) –  a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting glasses or a peripheral field so contracted that the widest diameter of such field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees,


Function at the Definition of Blindness (FDB) which is visual performance reduced by brain injury or dysfunction when visual function meets the definition of blindness as determined by an eye care specialist or neurologist.

Be enrolled in a formally organized educational program of less than college level. School-aged students must be enrolled with the registering school or agency on the first Monday in January. Adult students must be registered for at least three months of instruction during the preceding calendar year (an accumulation of 12 weeks).

How does the Federal Quota Program work?

A Congressional appropriation, designated to provide educational materials for students and adults who meet the definition of blindness, is made each year in the federal budget.

This allotment is divided by the total number of registered eligible students and clients enrolled in educational or instructional programs at less than college level.

This division of the appropriation results in a per capita dollar amount that is then multiplied by the number of registered students in each Federal Quota account. This amount is credited to each respective account, thus establishing each account’s “quota” for the federal fiscal year (beginning October 1).

The Ex Officio Trustee responsible for administering the account then uses the funds to purchase instructional materials for use by individuals registered in their account(s).

Who are the Ex Officio Trustees?

Each agency for people who are blind that participates in the Federal Quota Program must designate an Ex Officio Trustee of the American Printing House for the Blind who is entrusted with the administration of the Federal Quota Program within his or her system.

All orders for materials to be purchased with Federal Quota funds must be directed through the Ex Officio Trustee. Each Federal Quota order must carry the Trustee’s approval as the Trustee bears the responsibility for the manner in which these monies are used.

The current Directory of Ex Officio Trustees may be accessed from APH’s website.


For more than a century, the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind has been affecting change in the lives of Americans with visual impairments. Through the creation of unique materials distributed through a nationwide network of Ex Officio Trustees, APH and the Act address the specific learning needs created by vision loss. It is the purpose of the Act and its Federal Quota Program to place the most appropriate educational materials in the hands and lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.