Dec. 14 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs routinely failed to make its technology accessible to people with disabilities, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
The report comes after an 11-month investigation, which found widespread failure across the federal government to ensure that people with disabilities, older adults, and veterans had access to government technology.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires federal technology to be accessible for, and usable by, people with disabilities.
“Insufficient oversight and enforcement of Section 508 has led to a lack of compliance, resulting in federal technology that is inaccessible for people with disabilities,” the report found.
The report sets out a series of 12 recommendations, including urging the Department of Justice to resume reporting on federal compliance with Section 508 requirements.
It also calls on Congress to amend Section 508, pointing out that more than a quarter-century has passed since it was last substantially updated.
The report also recommended that federal agencies maintain capacity to continuously evaluate accessibility barriers.
“For years, I have been leading efforts to ensure that federal technology is accessible to people with disabilities and that the public is informed about the government’s efforts to make it accessible. My report shows we still have a long way to go,” committee chair Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said in a statement.
“The entire federal government needs to wake up to this issue because a whole-of-government approach is what we need to remedy it.
“We would not ask someone using a wheelchair to walk up the courthouse steps, but we are doing something similar when we ask people with disabilities to use federal websites that are not accessible.”