Published on November 28, 2023, 6:43 pm
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) has highlighted the importance of statewide digital accessibility coordinators in a recent report. The report emphasizes the need for these coordinators as the number of Americans with disabilities continues to rise and the demand for digital services increases.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been a 38% increase in the number of Americans over the age of 16 with at least one disability in the past decade. This, combined with the growing reliance on digital services, underscores the necessity for digital accessibility coordinators to ensure equal access for all citizens.
Digital accessibility coordinators play a crucial role in improving access to programs and services provided by state governments. They not only assist in making citizen experiences smoother but also conduct audits of government websites, social media platforms, and other systems to identify accessibility issues that need attention.
These positions are typically established at the discretion of the state’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), through legislation, or executive order. While 15 states currently have a digital accessibility coordinator in place, many others face obstacles due to funding constraints.
The NASCIO report recommends that states lacking digital accessibility coordinators form teams to review existing policies and procedures aimed at enhancing accessibility. The ultimate goal is to make services and programs more accessible across all levels of government.
Moreover, beyond setting statewide policies, it is ideal for these coordinators to foster community engagement through collaboration and knowledge sharing. They can also mentor new accessibility officers within different agencies.
According to Kathryn Michener, director of user experience for New Hampshire, prioritizing equitable government services shouldn’t be an afterthought but rather a motivation for innovation and improvement. By developing content that caters to overlooked groups, overall service quality can be enhanced for everyone.
In conclusion, NASCIO’s report sheds light on the critical role played by digital accessibility coordinators in ensuring equal access to digital services provided by state governments. As technology continues to evolve, it is imperative that efforts are made to make digital services accessible to all citizens.