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Identify and adopt comprehensive ICT accessibility standards

Identify and adopt comprehensive ICT accessibility standards


Edited by Hardik Bhatt, Chief Information Officer, Department of Innovation and Technology;  Karen Tamley, Commissioner, Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, City of Chicago. Contributors: Danielle DuMerer and Matthew Guilford, Department of Innovation & Technology; Laurie Dittman and Joseph Russo, Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, City of Chicago


In the United States, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires state and local government agencies to make sure that their programs, services and activities are accessible to people with disabilities. As a result, information and services provided over the Internet or through other information portals should be accessible to people with disabilities. Since it is difficult, if not impossible, to provide the level of access technology affords by other means, it is likely that providing accessible technology is usually the best way to comply with Title II. Although Title II does not provide detailed requirements for web and technology accessibility, existing standards applicable to the Federal Government as well as other recognized international and state requirements may be used.

ICT accessibility standards help ensure that everyone has access to electronic information and services and aim to remove common technical barriers. When local governments adopt and comply with these standards, people may more easily access information and use electronic and online services.

Local governments should know if their country or state/provincial governments have enacted ICT accessibility laws or adopted standards, and if the local government is lawfully required to meet these standards. If standards exist, local governments should review them to make certain they reflect the guidelines set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative. If no country or state/provincial standards exist, local governments should consider adopting WAI guidelines and techniques at minimum, as these guidelines are considered the international Web accessibility standard. However, WAI's guidelines are Web guidelines only and do not address other forms of ICT. Therefore, local governments should consider adopting standards that are more comprehensive in scope.

Local governments should consider whether or not to adopt standards via rulemaking or legislative procedures. Rulemaking or legislative procedures may require periods for public comment. However, whatever your local rulemaking procedures mandate, community involvement in the review and adoption process will help to ensure that your standards fully meet the needs of the local disability community.