During the 2022 Virginia legislative session, Delegate Kathy KL Tran (District 42) submitted HB1264 to the General Assembly. This bill sought to address digital accessibility in the public elementary and secondary schools and was passed unanimously by both the House and Senate; however, it was sent to the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) for further study.
Because the intentions of this proposed bill duplicated the efforts already underway in the higher ed and the state agency sectors, Delegate Tran was contacted to see how VHEAP could assist in addressing the similarities between her proposed bill and state code already in place, the Information Technology Access Act.
This effort has been undertaken by the following members of the VHEAP Legislative & Governance Committee:
- Korey Singleton – GMU [Lead]
- Lori Kressin – Univ of Virginia
- Barbara Zunder – Univ of Virginia
- Mark Nichols – Virginia Tech
During fall 2022, several of you participated in the VHEAP Digital Accessibility survey and subsequent focus groups. Based on the information provided from the survey along with discussion within the groups and with outside experts, the committee presented the VHEAP Status of Digital Accessibility report to Delegate Tran. In addition, the report has been distributed to the JCOTS committee, members of the US Access Board, the NFB, the DOJ, and others who provided important information to assist with creation of this report.
Key recommendations from the committee are:
- Bring public elementary and secondary schools under the current Information Technology Access Act, thereby negating the requirement of a new law
- Establish Section 508 as the baseline technical standard, thus broadening the law from non-visual access only to include all disabilities
- Each entity will be required to designate a Digital Accessibility Coordinator
- Define an implementation strategy for entities to increase their level of digital accessibility
- Yearly reporting to the Secretary of Administration
(As of Dec 1, 2022)
The proposed draft language has been submitted by Delegate Tran to Legislative Counsel for review and editing.