Calls for a Technology Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities in the US

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Thursday, 3 November 2016 08:09am

The National Council on Disability (NCD) in the United States has made a call to establish a ‘Technology Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities’ as part of a series of recommendations to the US Federal Government for making technology more accessible to people with a sensory, cognitive, or mobility disability.

Image of original US Bill of Rights

Image of original US Bill of Rights

Other recommendations called for by the NCD, which advises the US Government on disability policy, are that action should be taken to clarify that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to the internet, plus that federal agencies in the US should take “aggressive steps” to comply with a law requiring that their Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is accessible.

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 current obligations of organisations to provide accessible ICT, the report claimed. And the bill would clarify the rights of people with disabilities and “demonstrate how existing legislation applies to ICT and assistive technology.”

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

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.

You can read the executive summary of the key findings from ‘National Disability Policy: A Progress Report’ in PDF format. The full report can also be downloaded from the NCD website.


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