[GreaterPhilly] Senator Duckworth and Representative Sarbanes Introduce Bill to Make Websites and Mobile Applications Accessible to Individuals with Disabilities | National Federation of the Blind

Brian Mackey bmackey88 at gmail.com
Sun Oct 2 19:25:30 UTC 2022


Senator Duckworth and Representative Sarbanes Introduce Bill to Make
Websites and Mobile Applications Accessible to Individuals with Disabilities

Thursday, September 29, 2022


WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2022 - Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and
Representative John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.) introduced The Websites and Software
Applications Accessibility Act (S. 4998) and (H.R. 9021) in both the 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 Sen. Duckworth and Rep. 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 website and software application accessibility, reaffirm that existing
disability rights law covers websites and software applications, and 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 individuals with disabilities to access the same
information as, to engage in the same interactions as, to communicate and to
be understood as effectively as, and to enjoy the same services offered to
other individuals with the same privacy, independence, and ease of use as
individuals without disabilities.

For example, blind and low vision people often use screen-reader technology
that reads the content of websites and applications aloud or displays it on
a compatible braille device; people who are Deaf and hard of hearing utilize
closed captioning and remote video interpreters; people with physical
disabilities such as limited manual dexterity may require websites that have
full keyboard navigation; and people with communication or speech-related
disabilities may encounter barriers if a website uses voice interaction or
provides phone numbers as the only method to communicate with the business.

"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and well before, so many Americans relied
on the Internet to work from home, order home goods and connect with loved
ones - and yet, too many websites and apps remain nearly impossible to use
by Americans with disabilities, barring them from these experiences and
opportunities," said Senator Duckworth. "I'm proud to introduce this
legislation with Congressman Sarbanes to finally help make the web and other
technology more accessible for all users, including those in the disability

"Digital innovation is only as powerful as it is inclusive. As new and
emerging technologies have been incorporated into our daily lives, digital
inaccessibility has prevented Americans with disabilities from reaching a
broad range of health, education, employment and other critical resources.
To address this civil rights issue and remedy this longstanding inequity, we
need uniform, consistent standards that lay out what true digital
accessibility is and provide adequate mechanisms to enforce it," said
Congressman Sarbanes. "The Websites and Software Applications Accessibility
Act will require federal agencies to provide clear regulations for reducing
barriers to web accessibility and help businesses and state and local
governments work toward compliance. Senator Duckworth and I are pleased to
introduce this legislation with the input of disability advocates to take an
important step to achieving equity and inclusion for all Americans."

"We are delighted that this bill was introduced, and that Congress is
finally giving this issue the attention it deserves. We need to make sure
that people who are blind or have low vision are not left behind as our
world moves into an increasingly digital environment," said ACB President
Dan Spoone.

"The past few years have shown us how important it is that our digital
infrastructure is accessible to everyone," said Stephanie Enyart, Chief
Public Policy and Research Officer for the American Foundation for the
Blind. "Numerous research studies have revealed digital accessibility
barriers, so this bill will transform access to employment, education,
healthcare, and all other aspects of daily life for people who are blind and
have low vision.  We applaud Senator Duckworth and Representative Sarbanes
for introducing this legislation and committing to a digital society that is
inclusive of all people."

"In a generation where technology has opened countless doors, it's appalling
that so many users with disabilities are still kept from full access to
websites and applications because they are not designed with universal
access in mind, nor do they properly interact with assistive technology,"
said NDRN's Deputy Executive Director for Public Policy Eric Buehlmann.
"It's 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."

"Although we have had some success in vindicating 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 who want to effectively serve
customers with disabilities are asking for guidance," said Mark Riccobono,
President of the National Federation of the Blind. "We therefore urge the
United States Congress to act swiftly 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


American Council of the Blind: Clark Rachfal,  <mailto:crachfal at acb.org>
crachfal at acb.org,  <tel:202-467-5081> 202-467-5081
American Foundation for the Blind: Sarah Malaier,  <mailto:smalaier at afb.org>
smalaier at afb.org,  <tel:202-469-6831> 202-469-6831
National Disability Rights Network: David Card,  <mailto:press at ndrn.org>
press at ndrn.org,  <tel:202-567-3522> 202-567-3522
National Federation of the Blind: Chris Danielsen,
<mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org> cdanielsen at nfb.org,  <tel:410-262-1281>

About the American Council of the Blind: The American Council of the Blind
(ACB) is a national member-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, security, equality
of opportunity, and to improve the quality of life for all people who are
blind and visually impaired. For more information, visit www.acb.org
<http://www.acb.org> .

About the American Foundation for the Blind: The American Foundation for the
Blind (AFB) mobilizes leaders, advances understanding, and champions
impactful policies and practices using research and data. Publisher of the
Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness for over a century and counting,
AFB is also proud to steward 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 of no limits for people who are blind,
deafblind, or have low vision. To learn more, visit www.afb.org
<http://www.afb.org> . 

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

About the National Federation of the Blind: The National Federation of the
Blind, headquartered in Baltimore, defends the rights of blind people of all
ages and provides information and support to families with blind children,
older Americans who are losing vision, and more. Founded in 1940, the NFB is
the transformative membership and advocacy organization of blind Americans
with affiliates, chapters, and divisions in the fifty states, Washington DC,
and Puerto Rico. We believe in the hopes and dreams of blind people and work
together to transform them into reality. Learn more about our many programs
and initiatives at nfb.org.


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