What is the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act?

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What is the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act?

Have you heard of the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act yet? The bill was just introduced in the US Congress in September of 2022. It is a critical bill that could ensure websites and apps are accessible to all audiences. The purpose of the bill is “to establish uniform accessibility standards for websites and applications of employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, joint labor-management committees, public entities, public accommodations, testing entities, and commercial providers, and for other purposes.” Below are a few important things to know about the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act.

The Bill Supplements the ADA (American Disabilities Act)

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The ADA (American Disabilities Act) already includes web accessibility, but there are still some loopholes that companies can use to prevent from being sued. This bill will cover everything the ADA might have missed so no one can leave their websites and apps inaccessible without consequences. The sponsors of the bill state, “This bill goes beyond the ADA to cover commercial providers who design, develop and modify websites or applications to certain covered entities.” Any company that creates or modifies a website and/or app will be responsible for making it compliant with this new accessibility law or they will be sued indefinitely.

It Was Created to Prevent Discrimination

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The main purpose of the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act is to prevent discrimination against the disability community. As stated above, the bill specifically requires “commercial providers that develop, maintain or update websites and applications to follow the accessibility regulation established by the legislation.” This gives people with disabilities a direct cause of action if they need to sue a company for their website and/or app for not being accessible. Additionally, the bill prevents any more discrimination online since there will be no more loopholes companies can use to get around web accessibility laws.

Emerging Technologies Are Mentioned in the Bill But Are Not Required to Be Accessible Yet

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As of right now, the bill only requires websites and apps to be fully accessible, but it does mention emerging technologies. As our society is making technological advances all the time, it is important to ensure that individuals with disabilities are granted equal access. Section 10 of the Website and Software Applications Accessibility Act states, “Directs the National Council on Disability (NCD) to conduct a study and report on the effect of emerging technologies on the ability of people with disabilities to participate in all aspects of society and on the effectiveness of this legislation.” In the future, emerging technologies might become a part of this bill, but websites and apps will be addressed in the bill immediately if it is passed.

If you would like to support this bill getting passed, please contact your state representative and/or senator and ask them to support it!