Establishing a Technology Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities

As an independent federal agency, The National Council on Disability released their annual "National Disability Policy: A Progress Report" on October 7, 2016. In their reports, the National Council on Disability (NCD) makes recommendations to the President, Congress, and federal agencies based on their research and interviews. The NCD found that that people with disability still face many barriers when it comes to fully accessing and engaging with technology. Based on their findings, the NCD set the focus of the October 2016 Progress Report on the role technology plays as an integral part in furthering opportunities for people with disabilities.

Technology that enables access to the full opportunities of citizenship under the Constitution is a right... Our country is in need of a Technology Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities to clarify these rights and demonstrate how existing legislation applies to ICT and assistive technology.

The National Council on Disability: A Progress Report - October 2016 (72)

The NCD has recommended that Congress establish a Technology Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities. The Bill will identify and establish technology principles for current and future technology legislation. Reinforcement of current laws, regulations, and orders will also be applied through clarifying and plain language. These rights include fair and equal access to technology that is both inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities.

A Federal Advisory Committee will be tasked with identifying accessible information and communications technology and conducting research to establish the Technology Bill of Rights. Through these efforts existing laws, regulations, and their jurisdictions would be coordinated to bring cohesiveness.

Current laws include:

  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Assistive technology Act of 1998
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA)
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)

As a single document, the Technology Bill of Rights will specify the technology rights available to Americans with Disabilities. NCD outlines that this would include: how The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to the internet, Rehabilitation Act's Section 508 refreshes, and the U.S. Department of Justice's regulations and their enforcement. The NCD did not focus only on United States based laws, regulations, and orders but international treaties as well.

The United States has signed the United Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, but has not ratified them. Through the Technology Bill of Rights, the NCD demonstrates how United States based laws, regulations, and orders and signed international treaties could be brought together under one bill.

Source Materials:

The National Council on Disability: A Progress Report - October 2016

National Council on Disability Calls for a "Technology Bill of Rights" for 57 Million Americans

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