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Senator Tammy Duckworth and Representative John Sarbanes introduced the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act on September 29th, 2022. It is designed to ensure that software applications and websites are accessible to people with disabilities. The purpose of the Act is to establish parameters concerning which digital platforms must be accessible, along with a uniform set of accessibility standards.
Although this is only a proposed bill, it is the first time legislation will directly define which digital platforms must be made accessible. Thus, it is essential that all organizations take note of this development and prepare for potential changes to the existing law.
Key Provisions of the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act
The two most prominent provisions of the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act include clarifying which digital platforms must comply with ADA requirements as well as establishing a clear set of digital accessibility guidelines.
If the first provision is passed, it “would confirm that it is unlawful for any entity currently covered by the ADA to maintain inaccessible websites or software applications that exclude or otherwise discriminate against individuals with disabilities.” This provision would also cover commercial providers who develop, design, and modify websites or applications. These providers would be required to follow the accessibility regulations mentioned in the Act.
As for the second provision, the bill would require both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue accessibility regulations within two years. These requirements include:
Have access to the same information as non-disabled individuals.
Can communicate and be understood as effectively as non-disabled individuals.
Can engage in the same interactions as non-disabled individuals.
Can enjoy the same services as non-disabled individuals.
If this bill were to be passed, the ramifications for all organizations would be significant. Those with lingering accessibility issues and non-compliance will be under direct pressure to solve these issues.
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