USACM Accessibility Committee Comments on Justice Department's Action
Stresses Need for Greater Web Accessibility by People with Disabilities
January 28, 2011
Below is a statement from Harry Hochheiser and Jonathan Lazar of the USACM Accessibility Committee on the Department of Justice’s action regarding accessibility by people with disabilities to Web-based information and services.
"For individuals with disabilities and for businesses, the benefits of greater accessibility to web sites of public accommodations as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are widespread. They include improved access to vital public information, social and health care services, education, employment opportunities and resources, as well as economic benefits from online-only consumer discounts. We encourage the Department of Justice to improve compliance with the ADA for Web-based information and services, so that these benefits will be realized on a broad scale.
"The information technology and disability communities have developed accessibility standards and tools that federal agencies already use to comply with legal requirements. Applying these standards and tools simplifies the process of bringing sites into compliance without causing an undue burden on the development and enhancement of sites covered by these regulations. In addition, we advocate the same standards for both governmental and non-governmental web sites, as this approach requires identical compliance processes and tools, and enables covered websites to be audited consistently and fairly.
"To help users, developers, and providers of Web-based information and services prepare for additional changes required by accessibility compliance, we recommend the development of clear guidelines and uniform standards, which need not be excessively expensive or difficult. Instead, clear guidelines will both encourage developers to design content for accessibility, and discourage unintended consequences, such as removal of content for fear of high compliance costs."
Harry Hochheiser chairs the USACM Accessibility Committee and is Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh. Jonathan Lazar is a USACM member, Professor of Computer and Information Sciences, and Director of the Universal Usability Laboratory at Towson University.
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