Senator Duckworth and Rep. Sarbanes introduce bill to make websites and mobile apps accessible to people with disabilities

WASHINGTON, September 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Representative John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.) introduced the Website and Software Application Accessibility Act (S. 4998) and (HR 9021) in both United States Senate and the House of Representatives.

The American Council of the Blind (ACB), the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) commend Senator Duckworth and Representative Sarbanes for their leadership. and for introducing this legislation with the full support and collaboration of the disability community. Once passed, this legislation would require the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to establish a clear and enforceable uniform national framework for the accessibility of websites and software applications, to reaffirm that existing disability rights legislation covers websites and software applications and to ensure that accessibility standards keep pace with new and emerging technologies.

With respect to a website or application, accessibility means a website or application that enables people with disabilities to access the same information as, engage in the same interactions as, communicate and be understood as effectively as, and enjoy the same services as offered to other people with the same privacy, independence and ease of use as non-disabled people.

For example, people who are blind and visually impaired often use screen reader technology that reads content from websites and apps aloud or displays it on a compatible Braille device; deaf and hard of hearing people use closed captioning and remote video interpreters; people with physical disabilities such as limited manual dexterity may need websites with full keyboard navigation; and people with communication or speech disabilities may experience barriers if a website uses voice interaction or provides phone numbers as the only method of communicating with the business.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and long before, so many Americans relied on the internet to work from home, order household items and connect with loved ones – and yet, too many websites and apps remain nearly impossible for Americans with disabilities to use, excluding them from these experiences and opportunities,” said Senator Duckworth. “I am proud to introduce this legislation with Congressman Sarbanes to finally help make the web and other technologies more accessible to all users, including those in the disability community.”

“Digital innovation is only powerful if it is inclusive. While new and emerging technologies have been integrated into our daily lives, digital inaccessibility has prevented Americans with disabilities from accessing a wide range of essential online resources. health, education, employment and other civil rights issues and address this long-standing inequity, we need uniform and consistent standards that define what true digital accessibility is and provide mechanisms to enforce it,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “The Website and Software Application Accessibility Act will require federal agencies to provide clear regulations to reduce barriers to web accessibility and help businesses and state and local governments comply. Senator Duckworth and I are pleased to introduce this legislation with input from disability rights advocates. take an important step toward equity and inclusion for all Americans. »

“We are thrilled that this bill has been introduced and that Congress is finally giving this issue the attention it deserves. We need to make sure people who are blind or visually impaired are not left behind as our world evolves. in an increasingly digital environment,” said the ACB President Dan Spoon.

“The past few years have shown us how important it is for our digital infrastructure to be accessible to everyone,” said Stephanie Enyart, head of public policy and research for the American Foundation for the Blind. “Numerous research studies have revealed barriers to digital accessibility, so this bill will transform people’s access to jobs, education, healthcare and all other aspects of daily life. blind and visually impaired people. We commend Senator Duckworth and Representative Sarbanes for introducing this legislation and committing to an inclusive digital society for all.”

“In a generation where technology has opened countless doors, it’s appalling that so many users with disabilities still don’t have access to websites and apps because they aren’t designed for universal access and don’t interact not properly with assistive technologies,” said NDRN’s deputy executive director for public policy. Eric Buhlmann. “It is absolutely imperative that all people with disabilities have equal access to online resources. We thank Senator Duckworth and Representative Sarbanes for working with us on this much-needed legislation.”

“While we have successfully asserted the right of blind Americans to live and work in our increasingly digital world, individual complaints and agreements simply cannot keep pace with the expansion and evolution. of technology, and entities that want to serve customers with disabilities effectively seek guidance,” said Marc Ricobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We therefore urge the United States Congress to act quickly on this common-sense legislation that will finally close the gap caused by inaccessible technologies and clarify and enforce what our nation’s disability laws and policies require.”

This legislation is supported by the following disability and civil rights organizations: Access Living, American Association of People with Disabilities, American Council of the Blind, American Foundation for the Blind, Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Blinded Veterans Association, CommunicationFIRST, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Epilepsy Foundation of America, Hearing Loss Association of America, National Association of the Deaf, National Council on Independent Living, National Disability Institute, National Disability Rights Network, National Federation of the Blind, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., The Arc, United Spinal Association, and Vietnam Veterans of America.

About the American Council of the Blind: The American Council of the Blind (ACB) is a national membership-driven organization representing Americans who are blind and visually impaired. For more than 60 years, ACB has become a leader in national, state, local and even international advocacy efforts. With 68 affiliates, ACB strives to increase independence, safety, equal opportunity and improve the quality of life for all blind and partially sighted people. For more information, visit www.acb.org.

About the American Foundation for the Blind: The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) engages leaders, advances understanding, and champions impactful policies and practices using research and data. Editor of the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness For more than a century, the AFB has also proudly managed the accessible Helen Keller Archive, honoring the legacy of our most famous ambassador. AFB’s mission is to expand pathways to leadership, education, inclusive technology and career opportunities to create a world without limits for people who are blind, deafblind or visually impaired. To learn more, visit www.afb.org.

About the National Disability Rights Network: The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) works in washington d.c. on behalf of Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP), the nation’s largest providers of legal advocacy services for people with disabilities. The NDRN promotes network capacity, ensures that P&A/CAPs remain strong and effective by providing training and technical assistance, and advocates for laws protecting the civil and human rights of all persons with disabilities.

About the National Federation of the Blind: The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), headquartered in Baltimore, advocates for the rights of blind people of all ages, and provides information and support for families with blind children, older Americans who are losing their sight, and more. Founded in 1940, the NFB is the transformative membership and advocacy organization for the American blind with affiliates, chapters and divisions in all fifty states, washington d.c.and Porto Rico. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work together to turn them into reality. To learn more about our many programs and initiatives, visit nfb.org.

SOURCE American Council of the Blind

About Stuart M. McFarland

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