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US Congress called on to create technology equality bill

The National Council on Disability (NCD) has made a series of recommendations to the United States Government on making technology more accessible, including a call to establish a ‘Technology Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities’.

Other recommendations called for by the NCD (which is tasked with advising key strands of the US Government on disability policy) include the following: action should be taken to clarify that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to the internet, and; federal agencies in the US should take “aggressive steps” to comply with a law requiring that their ICT (information and communications technology) is accessible.

The NCD made the recommendations in ‘National Disability Policy: A Progress Report’, its annual publication for the White House and Congress. These reports explore different themes each year, making recommendations to government on issues that affect the lives of people with disabilities. Technology was chosen as the focus for the 2016 report, “because of the potential that it holds to transform how people with disabilities experience the opportunities of citizenship in our society,” writes NCD Chairperson Clyde Terry in a letter to US President Barack Obama, which opens the report.

As well as addressing the US Government, the latest NCD report also makes recommendations to the technology industry (including encouraging people with disabilities to participate in user-testing when developing new products), and both the private and public sectors (including making sure that procedures for purchasing new technology result in accessible equipment).

The key recommendation to government is to establish a Technology Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities. This is needed because of an “absence of clear language” around organisations’ current obligations to provide accessible ICT, the report claims.

The bill would clarify the rights of people with disabilities and “demonstrate how existing legislation applies to ICT and assistive technology,” claims the report.

The NCD’s plan for creating the bill would involve “creating a Federal Advisory Committee to draft a Bill of Rights with a budget specifically authorized by Congress”. This committee would then help to increase both the supply and demand of accessible ICT systems through targeted work, as well as expanding technology expertise to assist with policymaking, and reviewing existing regulations.

Read an executive summary of the key findings from ‘National Disability Policy: A Progress Report’, in PDF format, at the following link:
http://eab.li/32 .

The full report can be downloaded in document or PDF format from the NCD website, found at the following link:
http://eab.li/3d .

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