This episode is a demonstration of me commenting on the Department of Justice’s proposed rule on web accessibility under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you’re interested in commenting, please visit this page on Regulations.gov. Note, comments must be submitted by midnight EDT on October third.
If you comment, I would love to hear from you. If you’re interested, we may even be able to discuss your comments on the live version of the podcast broadcast on ACB Community.
The Comment Submitted During the Episode
Here is the text of the comment I submitted during the demonstration of the process for commenting on the proposed rule for web accessibility under Title II.
The final rule must ensure that state and local governments understand that adding so-called accessibility overlays does not mean sites and/or pages comply with the rule or result in accessible websites.
As a blind person who navigates the web with a screen reader, I hate websites that use so-called accessibility overlays. They don’t work well. They make everything load slower. They don’t behave consistently. They have different levels of capability. Most importantly they give site owners and creators the false idea that their site is accessible.
Overlays do not ensure PDFs, PowerPoints, visual representations, and more ways of providing information on the web are accessible when that information is uploaded to websites as downloadable content or content designed to open in another window or tab.
Overlays also do nothing about third-party portals and other external content that state and local governments require you to use to access their activities, programs, and services. My water company has a so-called accessibility overlay on their site. I can’t pay my bill online without guessing at where information is to be entered because the third-party portal they use is not accessible. I find their payment portal so aggravating that I call to pay my bill and sacrifice the convenience of online payment options available to their customers who do not use screen readers.
When I encounter a site with a so-called accessibility overlay, I know the site’s owners and creators aren’t really interested in providing me as a disabled person the integrated web experience mandated by Title II. Unless the final rule clarifies that so-called accessibility overlays do not provide compliance, I’m afraid many state and local governments will use overlays instead of doing what the law expects and updating their sites so that those of us with disabilities have the same integrated user experience as do people without disabilities. In the process, many more aspects of doing business with local governments may become more inaccessible or fail to result in the accessibility changes hoped for through the promulgation of this rule.