2024 VA Legislative Initiative

Members of the VHEAP Legislative & Governance Committee include:

  • Korey Singleton – GMU (Lead)
  • Lori Kressin – Univ of Virginia
  • Barbara Zunder – Univ of Virginia
  • Mark Nichols – Virginia Tech
  • Jason Heron – Virginia Tech

For more information on the groups efforts during the current legislative session, contact them at governance@vheap.org.

Work on bills introduced during 2024 session and followed by VHEAP has concluded, with most continued to the 2025 session. See below for updates.

There are two bills of interest this session, SB21/HB509 and HB1355 that we are focusing on. More information on each can be found below. If you would like to express your opinion/support of these or other bills, Who’s My Legislator web page will help you find your delegates and senators.

Other bills of interest:

SB 21 / HB 509 (use these links to follow the bill in their respective houses- opens new pages)

CURRENT STATUS: (Thanks to Sarah Beth Dreis for following and updating us on these bills!)

Last update March 6, 2024: A while ago, the Senate shifted and amended the bill to be a study bill after the House passed the bill in its original form. Since the House had already passed the bill and the Senate passed the study bill, the House rejected the Senate bill so they could move to a conference committee with both sides of the GA. 

This week, the conference committee met and both the Senate and the House adopted the conference committee report. So, both sides have agreed to a study bill with the expectation that findings will be presented to both bodies and the Governor by October 1, 2024. 

Delegate Cohen who brought the bill in the House stated in her presentation on the floor today that they will be back next year, so the appetite for a piece of legislation regarding documentation remains. Hopefully, this will bring all the stakeholders to the table to come to a good place of agreement.

This bill is being monitored by the following VHEAP Members and SCHEV personnel (* denotes VHEAP BOD member):

  • Emily Salmon (SCHEV)
  • Sarah Beth Dries (SCHEV & VHEAP*)
  • Joan Ehrlich (VHEAP*)
  • Barbara Zunder (VHEAP*)
  • Jamie Chandler (VHEAP*)
Summary as Introduced - Public institutions of higher education; policies; individuals with disabilities. Requires each public institution of higher education to adopt a policy that makes certain documentation or evidence enumerated in the bill that is submitted by an enrolled or admitted student sufficient to establish that the student is an individual with a disability. The bill requires each such policy to include a transparent and explicit process by which the institution determines eligibility for accommodations for an individual with a disability and requires each such institution to disseminate information about such process to students, the parents of students as appropriate, and faculty in accessible formats, including during any student orientation, and make such information available on a conspicuous and publicly accessible page on the institution's website.

HB 1355 (use this link to follow the bill – opens a new page)

CURRENT STATUS: Continued to 2025 for further study – currently sitting with the Senate General Laws and Technology committee and will also be reviewed by the Procurement Committee. It is anticipated this bill will be brought back in 2025. STAY TUNED!

02/12/24  House: Printed as engrossed 24105159D-E  pdf (including amendments)

Although our efforts to update and modernize the Code of Virginia, namely Chapter 35 – Information Technology Access Act during last year’s general assembly session did not come to fruition, our efforts are only stronger this year.

Once again Delegate Kathy Tran is the patron for this bill. Introduced on January 14th, this year’s version proposes a number of significant changes to improve the ability of covered entities to ensure equivalent access to their information and communications technology resources. Please keep in mind this is an update to current code – not new legislation!

Summary as Introduced - Information Technology Access Act; digital accessibility. Makes numerous organizational changes to the Information Technology Access Act. The bill defines "information and communications technology" as it relates to digital accessibility, defined in the bill, for all persons with disabilities. The bill permits the head of each covered entity, defined in the bill, to designate an employee to serve as such covered entity's digital accessibility coordinator and provides that such digital accessibility coordinator is responsible for developing and implementing such covered entity's digital accessibility policy. The bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2025.

The introduced proposal includes (NOTE: it is expected that as the bill moves through the legislative process, language will change):

  • Broadening the scope to cover all persons with disabilities, not just those with visual impairments 
  • Broadening the definition of covered entities to include public institutions of higher education, school divisions, and political subdivisions of the Commonwealth
  • Defining “information and communications technology, or ICT”
  • Updating procurement requirements for vendors:
    • Vendor-paid and provided accessibility conformance report (i.e., VPAT) indicating levels of conformance completed by a qualified individual/team
    • Vendor provided product enhancement roadmap for areas of nonconformance
    • Monetary consequences for vendors for failure to address accessibility nonconformance
    • Places responsibility on the vendor/developer to provide an accessible digital asset
  • Updating procurement requirements for institutions/covered entity:
    • Removal of the current 5% exclusion clause
    • Exclusion requires provision of equally effective alternative access plan when ICT does not meet conformance
    • Places responsibility on the institution/covered entity to review the ACR, the product roadmap, and development of equally effective alternative access plans for areas of nonconformance prior to deployment
  • Addressing the need for accessibility when digital assets are procured, acquired, and developed in-house
  • Encouraging covered entities to appoint digital accessibility coordinators who would provide oversight on development and implementation of entity’s digital accessibility-related policies
  • Tracking barriers to access and providing a process for grievances
  • Delayed implementation date of July 1, 2025

Members of the committee are happy with the proposal and would like to see institutional support for this bill. Please inform your legislative liaisons within your entity and contact your delegate and senators to express your support.

Links of interest:

How A Bill Becomes A Law In Virginia

Code of Virginia: Title 2.2 / Chapter 35: Information Technology Access Act