U.S. House committee OKs Steve Gleason bill sponsored by U.S. senator David Vitter _lowres

Advocate file photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Steve Gleason enters the stage to welcome the crowd before the Foo Fighters' performance at the 2014 Voodoo Festival at City Park in New Orleans.

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Washington – A U.S. House committee Tuesday unanimously approved the Steve Gleason Act, a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., that liberalizes federal funding for speech-generating devices for the disabled.

In January 2011, Gleason, a former football player for the New Orleans Saints, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative nerve condition also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease for the New York Yankees baseball star of the 1920s and 1930s who contracted it. Confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, Gleason relies for communication on the devices covered by the bill, including eye-tracking technology.

The bill, approved earlier by the Senate, is now ready for a vote in the full House that would sent the measure to the president for signature into law.