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USACM, ACM SIGCHI Issue Statement on Accessibility

Comments Address Draft Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines

Below is a statement from Harry Hochheiser, USACM Accessibility Committee Chair and University of Pittsburgh professor, and Jonathan Lazar, Chair of Public Policy for ACM SIGCHI and Towson University professor, on USACM and ACM SIGCHI's joint comments on the proposed updated standards and guidelines for accessibility under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as applicable to federal agencies, and Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act, as applicable to telecommunications manufacturers.  

“USACM supports the Access Board's decision to adopt an international standard for web accessibility because it will enable federal agencies, developers, and manufacturers to leverage a broader range of supporting materials, tools, training, and collaboration opportunities.   We anticipate this harmonization will result in industry efficiencies, cost reductions, and increased built-in accessibility features in ICT services, products, and equipment by the employment of a single standard across multiple markets and throughout their supply chains. 

“World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, an international standard, and its Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements, are readily available online, free, and supported by extensive resources to help federal agencies, developers, interface designers, and manufacturers easily understand how to make more accessible products and services.   To ensure ongoing consistency with the international standard, USACM has recommended the Access Board refer to ‘WCAG 2.0 or later’ to allow for updates and evolution of the referenced international standard as well as be ready to assist federal agencies by providing information about implementations, tools, and audit resources that will enable and support compliance. 

“USACM believes the proposed incorporation of WCAG 2.0 will foster increased coordination of accessibility across public and private efforts.  Since many software and equipment manufacturers already integrate WCAG 2.0 into their commercial products used in the private sector, we encourage emphasis on increasing awareness of the value of building accessibility into systems, fostering the development of evaluation tools, promoting and funding research, and extending accessibility standards while minimizing regulatory burdens.”