Digital accessibility crisis in state government websites

Topics:

  • Regulation
  • UserWay Research

Location:

  • United States

The big picture:

State and local government websites across the U.S. are falling short of ADA accessibility standards, impacting millions of Americans, new research by UserWay shows.

Why it matters:

The digital realm is an extension of the public space. Ensuring its accessibility is not just about compliance; it’s about enabling every citizen to participate fully in society. The study’s findings highlight a critical need for immediate action to bridge the accessibility gap.

Key findings:

  • Widespread non-compliance:

    Over 67,000 accessibility violations were identified across 627 government websites, with an average of 100 violations per main page, including issues like missing alternative text for images and low color contrast.

  • Economic repercussions:

    Inaccessible websites increase administrative burdens and costs, pose barriers to business owners with disabilities, and expose governments to legal actions, ultimately burdening taxpayers.

  • Uneven landscape:

    While some states like California and Massachusetts lead in digital accessibility, others like New Mexico and West Virginia lag significantly behind, underscoring the uneven commitment to inclusivity across the board.

  • Sector-specific findings:

    Public airports were found to be the least accessible, whereas State Police sites, Departments of Education, and state capital sites fared slightly better.

The bottom line:

42 million Americans with disabilities may struggle to use inaccessible digital services. The report paints a grim picture of digital accessibility in government services, calling for urgent reforms to ensure that digital government services are equally accessible to all citizens, regardless of disability.

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