Regarding Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act

WHEREAS, more than 307 million Americans use the internet, and 81 percent of Americans say that they access the internet at least once each day; and

WHEREAS, some forty-one million Americans report having a disability; and

WHEREAS, based on these numbers and on the fact that the internet has become an essential part of daily living, it is more than reasonable to assume that the vast majority of Americans with disabilities, including blind and deafblind Americans,  are using or need to use websites and mobile applications for education, employment, and many tasks of daily life; and

WHEREAS, many entities are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws to make their websites accessible but claim to have no clear-cut definition of what "accessible" means, and so far the United States Department of Justice has not issued regulations to provide guidance to such entities, despite announcing its intent to do so in 2010; and

WHEREAS, the lack of clarity around website and software accessibility has contributed to the filing of thousands of lawsuits against covered entities, some brought by unscrupulous lawyers seeking quick monetary settlements, which have in turn produced inconsistent court rulings fostering even more uncertainty; and

WHEREAS, to finally resolve this uncertainty and provide clear guidance for businesses and other entities who wish to make their websites and applications accessible and access the pool of American consumers who have disabilities, Congressman John Sarbanes, who represents the third Congressional district of Maryland, introduced the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act (H.R. 9021) on September 29, 2022, and companion legislation was introduced the same day in the Senate by Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois; and

WHEREAS, this historic legislation, which the Honorable Tony Coelho, author of the ADA, said is as significant as the introduction of the ADA itself, will direct the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to promulgate accessibility regulations and will also establish a technical assistance center to aid covered entities, developers, and individuals with disabilities, as well as ensuring that accessibility regulations keep pace with new and emerging technologies, Now, therefore:

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Convention assembled this thirteenth day of November, 2022, in the City of Towson, Maryland, that this organization express its profound gratitude and commendation to Congressman John Sarbanes for working with the National Federation of the Blind and others to craft this landmark legislation and for introducing it in the House of Representatives.