Many Government Websites Still Failing Accessibility Test

Perkins School for the Blind’s sampling of basic web accessibility indicates that key aspects of government websites may fall short of federal guidelines

young woman with thick eyeglasses navigates a website on her ipad

With the right know-how, it is quite easy to accommodate website users who have disabilities by applying basic accessibility principles.

August 18, 2016

WATERTOWN, MA (August 18, 2016) – A recent random sample digital accessibility review checked large government websites across 25 states. More than 90 percent of those sites were found to contain pages that are inaccessible to people with a range of disabilities. Perkins Solutions, the assistive technology division of Perkins School for the Blind, conducted the review focusing on state website homepages, as well as education departments, employment services, tax authorities and voter information/registration pages.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Recently, a lack of website accessibility has led to lawsuits in both the public and private sectors, while the Department of Justice saw a 40 percent increase in the number of web accessibility complaints from 2014 to 2015. In response to dramatic increases in the availability and use of online and mobile technology, ADA rules and guidelines are currently being revamped to address digital accessibility.

During this heated election season, the Perkins review found that 80 percent of all voter information/registration pages failed at least one component of basic website accessibility. “A record number of people participated in the voting process in the presidential primaries,” said Perkins Solutions Vice President Bill Oates. “This level of voter engagement gives local and state governments a great reason to start the conversation about how to make their digital services accessible to every citizen.”

“I’ve seen the positive role that Massachusetts and other states have played in leading the charge toward accessibility for individuals with disabilities,” said Oates, who is the former CIO for both the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. “While this progress is admirable, evolving technology brings change and new challenges. One challenge that’s pretty easy to resolve is making digital assets accessible to everybody.”

Oates came to Perkins Solutions in 2015, launching the Perkins Access suite of services in early 2016 to help public and private entities bring their websites into compliance with federal accessibility guidelines and to improve usability for all consumers. A number of higher education, commercial and government clients have already enlisted the Perkins Access digital accessibility services, including Harvard University, the University of Notre Dame and the USDA.

To experience screen reader output on both accessible and inaccessible websites, see Perkins’ video on digital accessibility.

About Perkins

Perkins School for the Blind, founded in 1829 as the first school of its kind in the US, is a multifaceted organization working around the world to prepare children and young adults who are blind with the education, confidence and skills they need to realize their full potential.

The Perkins Solutions division provides assistive technology products, consultation and training. Its Perkins Access customizable suite of services is designed to help clients maximize accessibility, usability and compliance of their physical spaces and digital assets.

For more information on Perkins Access, visit http://www.perkins.org/access.

Contact

Marilyn Rea Beyer, Media & Public Relations Director
Perkins School for the Blind
marilynrea.beyer@Perkins.org
617-972-7478 (office) or 617-513-5569 (mobile)