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Accessibility is more than a compliance issue — it’s a matter of social justice

Laptop with the City of Portsmouth website open and AudioEye activated

If you’ve dedicated your career to public service, I’m sure you’re no stranger to the fact that society does not always give as much support as it can to those in need. It’s always an uphill battle to redress that balance, and the road to a fairer society is littered with obstacles, detours and dead ends.

That’s why, when things do start moving in the right direction, it’s not enough to stand back and applaud—you need to put your shoulder to the wheel and keep the momentum going. Public agencies need to set the right example if the rest of society is to follow.

Social justice for people with disabilities

This is particularly true in areas such as rights for people with disabilities. In a world where more and more public services are delivered online, it’s especially critical for government websites, mobile applications and electronic documents to be built and maintained with accessibility in mind.

Anything that restricts people with disabilities from interacting easily with these services should be regarded as an impediment to their ability to participate in society, and an infringement of their human rights.

The law is on your side

Fortunately, campaigners for disability rights have federal law on their side. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities from discrimination in their use of any state or local government services. While the legislation itself pre-dates the mainstream adoption of the internet, the spirit of the Act is clear, and there is legal precedent for public organizations being sued for not following online accessibility standards.

Moreover, at state level, we’re now seeing laws that specifically refer to the accessibility of applications and web sites. In 2017, California passed a bill called AB 434, which requires state agencies to certify that their websites comply with the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) on a biennial basis. Meanwhile, New York State policy NYS-P08-005, updated in 2019, “is intended to facilitate the full and complete use of State applications, websites, and other digital interfaces by the public and State employees.”

A change is going to come

While it might not be surprising that two of the most socially progressive states in the country are among the first to enshrine robust web accessibility rights for people with disabilities as part of state law, other states will surely follow their lead. Statistics from the US Department of Health & Human Services indicate that one in four adults in the United States have some type of disability—a significant proportion of the electorate that state governments cannot afford to ignore.

At AudioEye, we’ve been working with city and state governments, federal agencies, school boards and other public sector organizations across the United States to ensure that agencies pay more than just lip-service to web accessibility requirements. A common theme among our clients is the appreciation that this is about more than just compliance with legal requirements—it’s about social justice.

For example, speaking about a project to implement AudioEye and other technologies to support digital services for the City of Portsmouth (VA), CIO Daniel Jones recently remarked: “We knew that meeting the spirit—not just the letter—of the law would be crucial to actually make a difference in peoples’ lives. We wanted to go beyond the minimum requirements for regulatory compliance and deliver the same outstanding digital experience to all users, regardless of their abilities.”

Let’s push things forward

At AudioEye, we provide the expertise and the tooling that public sector organizations need to ensure that all citizens have equal access to public services, regardless of their abilities. We provide fast and effective compliance solutions that keep your web and mobile services in line with the evolving WCAG guidelines, which are recognized as today’s de-facto web accessibility standard.

Don’t let inertia stand in the way of social justice—keep your organization moving in the right direction for disability rights. Start your accessibility journey with AudioEye today.

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