Washington – A bill by U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., that liberalizes federal funding for speech-generating devices for the disabled was signed into law Thursday by President Barack Obama. The measure is known as the Steve Gleason Act.
In January 2011, Gleason, a former football player for the New Orleans Saints, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, 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. Changes to federal regulations in 2014 limited the availability of the devices for patients.