U.S. Government agencies yet to make technology accessible, 24 years later

Despite the legal requirement for technology accessibility set in 1998, U.S. government agencies are still failing to comply after 24 years. A report reveals that about 30% of federal websites do not meet accessibility standards, leaving individuals with disabilities facing obstacles. Witnesses, including a lawyer and advocates for the blind community, have urged senators to ensure that agencies adhere to laws protecting the rights of disabled individuals.

According to a 2021 report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, roughly 30 percent of the federal websites don’t meet the set accessibility standards. Congress made a portion of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act known as Section 508, which asks federal agencies to make technology accessible, mandatory. That was back in 1998, nearly a quarter-century later, enforcement is lagging behind and agencies are spending little effort or money to comply.

Eve Hill, a lawyer with Brown, Goldstein & Levy, who testified about the problems before the Senate Aging Committee last month said, ‘Clients of my firm right now are dealing with trainings required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that don’t work with blind people screen readers and with intake kiosks at the Social Security Administration that are not accessible’.
Hill, along with Anil Lewis, executive director for blindness initiatives at the National Federation of the Blind, and Jule Ann Lieberman, assistive technology program coordinator at Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities, asked senators to ensure the federal government is complying with federal disability law.