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Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth sponsored the “Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act‘ in September. This link will open in a new browser tab and is a synopsis. Although this is proposed legislation and we do not know if it will eventually become law, we (at Web Professionals Global) thought it important to mention this as we near the end of the year.

If enacted

Although the future of this law is presently not known, it is important to note some of the key aspects of this proposed legislation. This would make it unlawful for entities covered by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) “to maintain inaccessible websites and applications that exclude or otherwise discriminate against people with disabilities.” There would be a clear and enforceable accessibility standard with a technical assistance center and an advisory committee. The latter would provide advice on making websites and applications accessible. A study addressing emerging technologies would also be authorized. Quotes are from the above link.

Note the mention of clear and enforceable standards. In many cases, current laws seem vague and significantly lagging behind technology. Clarity will certainly help. Note also the proposed technical assistance center and advisory committee. In our opinion, these two items have been sorely lacking from most legislation. Most businesses simply lack the resources to “figure it out” on their own.

Why now?

Given what we have experienced with the pandemic, we all should understand better what it is to be excluded from a digital environment. Accessibility is experiencing significantly increased interest and awareness these days. We suspect accessibility laws are only going to be strengthened in the near future. As practicing web professionals, we should be helping our clients understand the importance of making websites, apps, and emerging technologies accessible (augmented reality, virtual reality, NFTs and more).

Want to know more?

We recommend this great article by Lainey Feingold which discusses this legislation in much greater depth.

What are your thoughts on accessibility as it relates to emerging technologies? We look forward to reading your comments.