Gleason Act, helping patients with ALS, signed into law

The Steve Gleason Act officially became law Thursday, when President Barack Obama signed off on the bill named for the former New Orleans Saints special-teams standout.

Gleason, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) in 2011, has become a crusader for patients with ALS and other neuromuscular disorders. He and his Team Gleason foundation were the driving force behind the law, which will make critical technology available to patients through Medicare and Medicaid.

That includes innovative speech-generating devices like the one Gleason uses to type through eye movements.

Gleason spent Thursday at Microsoft headquarters during its company-wide meetings to speak about the humanity of technology and brainstorming ways to further improve technology for those with the greatest need.

Last year, Gleason tasked Microsoft to create a way for him to drive his power chair with his eyes. The company unveiled the technology this week, according to a Team Gleason representative. While it's not available yet, Gleason called the new technology "liberating."

Gleason tweeted about the new law and visiting Microsoft on Thursday night.

When the Gleason Act passed through both houses of Congress earlier this month, Gleason said, "People, like myself, who are literally voiceless, were heard. Loud and clear. ... This legislation may have my name on it, but please know it is the ALS community and the diligent legislators who deserve our applause."

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, who first introduced the bill, posted a celebratory message on Facebook on Thursday

"NO WHITE FLAGS! The Steve Gleason Act is officially the law of the land," Vitter wrote. "The President signed my bill this evening. Congrats to Steve and Team Gleason for your tireless, inspirational efforts to get this across the goal line."