Rep. Vella-Wilkinson bill would make state websites more accessible to those with disabilities


STATE HOUSE — Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) has introduced legislation that would improve the accessibility to state websites for those with disabilities.

The bill (2022-H 8066) would require all newly established public access websites to be in compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Existing state websites would be required to comply no later than July 1, 2027, and municipalities would be strongly encouraged to adopt consistent standards.

“Our state websites are not easily navigated by visitors with certain disabilities and it’s about time we addressed that blatant discrimination,” Representative Vella-Wilkinson told the House Committee on State Government and Elections, which heard testimony on the bill Wednesday. “Our workplace has changed from brick and mortar to virtual, and as customer-centered state websites are designed for greater transparency, we must turn our attention to improved accessibility for those with accessibility challenges.”

For a website to be compliant with the ADA, it must be accessible to people who browse the web with assistive devices, such as screen readers, voice recognition and switch devices.

“ADA compliance isn’t just about ticking a regulatory compliance box,” said Representative Vella-Wilkinson. “It’s about enabling people with real needs to have a more wholesome web experience. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily, and that isn’t consistent with our often-stated desire to be more transparent.”