Following a bipartisan effort in Congress, the Department of Justice intends to file its first report within a decade regarding accessibility of federal government websites.
“The Department of Justice … recognizes the critical importance of accessible technology to millions of Americans with disabilities,” The DOJ in a letter Sen. Bob Casey (D.Pa.), who received it Monday, had previously written to the department In June, to demand that government reports on compliance with accessibility standards.
The DOJ It also stated that the document will be submitted. “in the coming weeks.”
Unter Section 508 The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires federal agencies to make information and electronic technology accessible to people with disabilities. The DOJ Must also collect and report information to the president and Congress about federal agencies’ compliance with Section 508 every two years, and it must make the report publicly available.
“It’s something that should have been done every other year, and now we’re more than 10 years down the road,” The Sunday Review was informed by Glenda Sims who is the chief information accessibility officer of digital accessibility company Deque Systems. “But we have to do that. It’s monitoring the health of our important government websites that people need to use and have independent access to.”
The most recent report Filed by the DOJ 2012 showed “mixed levels of success” Accessibility to federal websites. In his letter this summer, Casey and six other senators requested that the department resume its reports and explain why it hadn’t filed one for so long.
“On behalf of the 26 percent of Americans living with a disability, including the 40 percent of people over age 65 who have a disability, we write to urge DOJ to take immediate steps to meet its obligations and once again issue these biennial reports,” The senators wrote June.
“Without regular reports, Congress, taxpayers, and agencies themselves lack a crucial source of feedback for identifying and resolving longstanding accessibility issues.”
The DOJ’s recent letter, which Casey’s office shared with The Sunday Review, did not provide an explanation for its decadelong lack of compliance. The department did not immediately respond to The Sunday Review’s request for comment on its renewed commitment to reporting.
“Despite legal requirements, these reports had not been issued for a decade, leaving Congress without critical information about how the federal government is addressing accessibility of its technology,” Casey said so to The Sunday Review. “We have a long way to go to make all aspects of the federal government accessible for people with disabilities, but getting this information from [the] DOJ is a critical step.”
The U.S. Access Board can be contacted at responsible Federal accessibility standards are developed to ensure the availability of assistive technology. 2019 statistics The Census Bureau reports that nearly 11.5 Million Americans have hearing difficulties and 7.5 Million have visual impairments. Website Sims stated that accessibility is crucial for these people as it allows equal access to information.
However, in a 2021 reportThe non-profit Information Technology and Innovation Foundation found many pages that failed the automated accessibility test on popular federal websites. According to the report, 30% of homepages failed the automated accessibility test and 48% failed at least one of their most popular pages.
Sims believes that developers aren’t intentionally building access barriers, but rather that the barriers are easy to miss. Sims hopes developers will soon be motivated to properly incorporate accessibility into their website designs in the future.
She stated that accessibility checks should be part of the design and construction community. “I think that making it a requirement to put in these automated testing tools will help raise awareness,” Sims said.
She also stated that this analysis of accessibility design would be very beneficial. “make it easy for developers and designers and content contributors to run checks so that we don’t always have to be dragging an accessibility expert in to figure out whether it works or not.”