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Trouble changing backlight brightness (/sys/class/backlight folder empty)

I have a system that I am working on that needs to be able to reduce its brightness for power saving reasons. It is running Debian 3.2.68.
I have tried several approaches to this such as xbacklight but the folder /sys/class/backlight is empty so it fails with No outputs have backlight property. I have tried updating and rebuilding my kernel as well as trying different parameters for acpi_backlight= in my menu.lst file. Any ideas on what to try from here or other ways to reduce the brightness are greatly appreciated!