Renewed push for improved web accessibility policy in the United States

  • Author: Chris Pycroft
  • Date: 15 Jan 2016

Two separate calls for improved web accessibility of government websites in the United States are gaining momentum.

Campaigning to improve web accessibility in the United States has increased, with a recently published petition quickly gaining popularity, while politicians have requested that a review of government policy be completed so that further action can be taken.

Petition on White House website

A petition has been listed on the White House Petitions website calling for President Obama to take action on web accessibility policy, citing recent developments which indicate that regulations for non-government websites will not be released until 2018.

“People with disabilities struggle to do everyday tasks such as banking, purchasing goods, and more,” the petition says.

“Inaccessible websites also hinder our education and employment. Website developers need guidance on how to comply with the law. Failing to provide that guidance is irresponsible and inconsistent with your commitment to civil rights. We demand that you issue the regulations immediately.”

The petition has been signed 1,100 times in its first two days of being published. In order to receive a formal response from the White House, it must be signed 100,000 times by Thursday 11 February.

Signed letter from US senators

Nine US senators have contacted the Office of Management and Budget to complete a review of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM), in order to clarify whether websites and other forms of technology are included under titles in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The review, which in the process of being completed by the Department of Justice, was announced in July 2010. The review is intended to provide formal advice on whether the ADA incorporates web accessibility, or if new policy needs to be legislated.

The letter, which was signed by Senators Edward Mackey, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Cory Booker, Barbara Mikulski, Richard Blumenthal, Benjamin Cardin, Al Franken and Richard Durbin, calls for all information and communication technologies to be accessible to people with disabilities, and for websites to meet Level AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

After originally postponing the announcement of new rules to April 2016, the Department of Justice announced in November that an announcement relating to the ADA for non-government websites was being pushed back further to 2018.

A separate rule in relation to web accessibility for state and local governments is still expected to be released later this year.