Electronic Government (E-gov) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

In Everyone has one, Opinion by David Keys

As the government seeks more technologically advanced methods of serving its constituents, it must do so in a manner that does not negate years of progress that has been achieved by those with physical disabilities.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s website which is located at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/cguide.htm#anchor62335 , “Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) establishes requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government.

Section 508 requires Federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.”

Some strides have been made over the years to help ensure that all individuals have equal access to America’s government institutions.

One can simple look at buildings that are over 30 years old and see the strides that have been made to increase accessibility for those with physical challenges.

However, as the government moves towards a more electronic government (E-gov) it must not function in a manner that negates years of struggles for equal rights and accessibility.

The same innovative and creative measures that allow physically challenged individuals to visit America’s physical structures must be incorporated into electronic government initiatives.

Many structures are designed with the status quo in mind and those with physical challenges are an afterthought that too often requires legal action prior to inclusion. America’s government institutions must insure that such is not the case.

Furthermore, many of the instruments that are designed to assist physically challenged individuals, makes life easier for all. One should remember this in the future when he or she rides a bicycle up the ramp to access the sidewalk or open the door with the touch of a button when his or her hands are full.

America’s government institutions must not simply aim to meet the requirements of regulations such as the ADA. One may find that many of these acts are outdated or inapplicable to new technologies and trends.

Quite the contrary, the government must serve as an example to all institutions, both government and private, that provisions which strengthens accessibility to physically challenged individuals, strengthens accessibility for all.

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