Resolution 2009-05 Website Accessibility in Maryland

         WHEREAS, all Maryland citizens, including the blind, need full access to government information and services; and

WHEREAS, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all state services be accessible to people with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the state of Maryland adopted legislation in 1998 and 2000 to require state government to make all of its public information and Websites accessible to the blind; and

WHEREAS, in 2008, to highlight the importance of information technology and to provide better policy coordination, Governor O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly created a new department in the executive branch to specifically handle information technology issues; and

WHEREAS, the duties of the Information Technology Department include, “developing, maintaining, revising, and enforcing information technology policies, procedures, and standards,” as well as “adopting by regulation and enforcing nonvisual access standards to be used in the procurement of information technology services by or on behalf of units of state government”; and

         WHEREAS, Governor O’Malley stated in a public forum, "Fully accessible websites should be the standard for all of us," yet information from numerous departments of state government remain inaccessible to the blind; and

WHEREAS, a recent analysis by the Department of Computer and Information Sciences And the Universal Usability Laboratory at Towson University, found that fourteen out of fifteen Maryland state agency Websites studied violated at least one accessibility guideline; and

WHEREAS, the Maryland Department of Information Technology was found in that same study to have two accessibility violations on its own home page; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Information Technology should be a leader in web access by setting an example for all other state agencies; and

WHEREAS, the Maryland Department of Disabilities is charged with ensuring that state policies and practices do not conflict with the needs of disabled people, yet this department lacks the staff to ensure nonvisual access to public information; and

WHEREAS, Maryland’s state agencies have already had nine years to comply with federal and state accessibility guidelines; and

WHEREAS, blaming non-compliance on the poor economy and the shortfall of tax revenue is penny-wise and pound-foolish, because redesigning existing Websites and defending lawsuits for violations of state and federal laws are always more costly than initial compliance: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Convention assembled this  15th day of November, 2009, in the City of Ocean City, Maryland, that this organization condemn and deplore the failure of Maryland state government to provide access to information and services for its blind citizens; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the O’Malley administration to immediately enforce state and federal laws requiring that Websites be accessible to the blind; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge Governor O’Malley to provide the Maryland Department of Disabilities with the resources to consult with and train personnel in state agencies so that the promise of access to  public information stated in law becomes a reality for blind citizens in Maryland.