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Making the Internet Accessible for All

The U.S. Department of Justice has issued advance notice that it is considering a change to regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act that would address the accessibility, or lack thereof, of certain websites.

The Department is considering providing specific requirements for the websites of local and state governments, as well as public entities, such as colleges and public schools, to accommodate people with disabilities. The notice was issued in order to receive feedback about what kinds of websites should be subject to these specifications, what standards—if any—should be adopted, and what kinds of services and resources are out there to help with this transition. Comments on this can be viewed and submitted here for the next 180 days. Read the entire notice from the Department of Justice here.

WebAIM, a nonprofit Internet accessibility advocacy group based out of Utah State University, praised the notice and encouraged Web accessibility advocates to weigh in on this issue. Also, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on the notice, pointing back to a joint letter sent last month by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education urging college presidents to use caution when adopting e-readers on campuses. The letter warned the lack of a text-to-speech function in many e-readers makes them inaccessible to visually impaired students.

Considering that the Americans with Disabilities Act reached its 20th anniversary this past Monday, it only seems appropriate to consider how the philosophy and mission is playing out as new technologies emerge and evolve.

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