NASCIO makes case for more digital accessibility coordinators

A new report from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers found that 15 states have statewide digital accessibility coordinators.
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The National Association of State Chief Information Officers drew attention to the need for statewide digital accessibility coordinators across the country in a brief report published Tuesday

The number of Americans over the age of 16 with at least one disability has risen 38% in the past decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The demand for digital services has meanwhile skyrocketed, highlighting the need for digital accessibility coordinators, according to NASCIO. 

“With the expansion of digital government services, accessibility is an imperative,” Meredith Ward, NASCIO’s deputy executive director, said in a press release.

Digital accessibility coordinators can help improve access to programs and services, making citizen experiences with state governments easier. Employees in these positions can also help audit government websites, social media and other systems to identify accessibility issues that need to be remedied. Typically, these positions are created at the discretion of the state CIO, legislation or through executive order, according to NASCIO’s report. 


“Simply put, it’s the right thing to do,” Kathryn Michener, New Hampshire’s director of user experience, said in the report. “When we develop content for groups that are or have historically been overlooked, we improve services for everyone. Creating equitable government services shouldn’t be an afterthought, it should be a motivation for innovation and improvement.” 

NASCIO counts at least 15 states with a digital accessibility coordinator — including Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania and Texas. The report found that funding is the largest hurdle for states that don’t have a digital accessibility coordinator but would like to.

NASCIO members that participated in the report recommended that states without digital accessibility coordinators assemble teams to review policies and procedures that are geared toward making services and programs more accessible.

“In addition to setting statewide policy, ideally the statewide digital accessibility officer role is someone who can build community engagement through collaboration and knowledge sharing, as well as through mentoring agencies’ new accessibility officers,” Marie Cohan, Texas’s digital accessibility program administrator, said in the report.

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