The majority staff of the Senate Committee on Aging urged in a new report on Dec. 14 – Unlock The Virtual Front Door – that the Justice Department (DoJ) resume critical oversight for digital and technological accessibility for people with disabilities, older adults, and veterans.
The report says that a biennial report from the DoJ on digital tech accessibility – required under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – has not been issued since 2012, despite guidance to do so from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
The committee’s efforts are having an impact, as the report says that “DoJ recently committed to issuing its first report in a decade.”
The report views Section 508 and its requirements as the bedrock on which more action is can be taken to improve tech accessibility. The report’s 12 recommendations are:
- DoJ should resume reporting on Federal compliance with Section 508 requirements;
- The General Services Administration (GSA) should publish data on Section 508 compliance;
- OMB should review its strategic plan for improving management of Section 508;
- Federal agency inspectors general should increase oversight of Section 508 compliance;
- Departments and agencies must maintain capacity to conduct automated Section 508 compliance scans;
- Departments and agencies should incorporate people with disabilities and older adults into technology planning and evaluation;
- Departments and agencies should broaden the use of human testers to evaluate Section 508 compliance and technology accessibility;
- Departments and agencies should consider appointment of accessibility officers with direct responsibility for Section 508 compliance;
- Departments and agencies should ensure that Federal workers and the public have robust reporting pathways for Section 508 complaints;
- Congress should consider amending Section 508, a quarter-century after it was last substantially updated;
- Congress should hold Federal departments and agencies accountable for Section 508 compliance through oversight and legislation; and
- Congress should ensure the accessibility of its own technology and websites for people with disabilities and older adults.