On June 30, 2020, the state of Colorado passed House Bill 21-1110, which requires state and local government websites to meet the accessibility standards established by the state’s Chief Information Officer (CIO).
The bill was sponsored by neophyte Democratic state representative David Ortiz, who, after being elected in 2020, became the first person in a wheelchair to serve in the Colorado General Assembly.
Ortiz was eager to support the legislation after advocates from the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition and the National Federation of the Blind approached him with their proposal for the idea, saying no state has yet passed a web accessibility law.
After the bill proposing the establishment of web accessibility guidelines failed to get Congress approval in January, being the pioneering state to pass a web accessibility law is considered a win for Colorado and a step in the right direction.
Provisions of the Colorado Web Accessibility Bill
Now that House Bill 21-1110 has been passed, Colorado state agencies are required to submit an accessibility plan to the CIO’s office before July 1, 2022.
The Office of the CIO will review the plan and set a method for implementation. State agencies are required to implement the strategies by July 1, 2024.
The bill makes it easy for individuals with disabilities to file a civil suit against non-compliant agencies. Non-compliant agencies will be considered in violation and must pay a $3,500 fine to the plaintiff.
As of writing, Colorado has 4,268 active local governments.
What Colorado’s Accessibility Law Means for Other States
Local and state agencies are already subject to federal accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law protects the human rights of people with physical or mental disabilities.
However, adding protections to state laws means that starting July 2024, Colorado residents with disabilities can now bring discrimination lawsuits over government programs and facilities to state courts instead of just federal courts.
That alone is a big deal for residents living in rural areas far from the federal court in Denver.
Disability advocates are also pushing for President Joe Biden’s administration to restart implementing web accessibility standards, which would allow the Department of Justice to enforce them under the ADA.
The initiative began during former President Barack Obama’s term and was abandoned during the term of Obama’s successor, Donald Trump.
Biden’s administration has started pushing for inclusion and providing equal opportunity to people with disabilities.
During the 31st anniversary celebration of ADA, President Biden announced that his administration is committed to the legacy of ADA, promising to provide equal opportunity and fair-paying jobs to people with disabilities in the Federal Government.
What You Can Do To Make Your Website Accessible
Now that Colorado has a web accessibility law, other states may soon follow suit.
Even if yours isn’t a government website, making your website accessible to all users won’t hurt. Besides being an ADA requirement, accessible websites also have SEO benefits and bring in more business.
According to WCAG, an accessible website allows different users to enjoy equal access to the same information.
It is not limited to just persons with disabilities, but also:
- Those using devices with small screens and have different input modes.
- The elderly.
- People with “temporary disabilities,” including a broken limb, lost glasses or a medical condition.
- Users with “situational limitations” such as in bright sunlight or an environment where they cannot listen to audio, such as public transportation.
- Individuals with a slow Internet connection.
With that in mind, here are some things you can do to make your website more accessible:
- Install the WP Accessibility plugin.
- Be conscious of color contrasts.
- Add image alt text so screen readers can read the text.
- Add subtitles or transcripts to media files.
Final Thoughts — Web Accessibility Is Now Mandatory for Colorado Websites
Colorado made history as the first state to pass a bill requiring government websites to meet accessibility guidelines. The legislation is a step in the right direction for people with disabilities seeking inclusivity and equality in internet use.
Even if the legislation does not cover personal and business websites, you’ll reap multiple benefits by improving your website’s accessibility.
What do you think about Colorado’s new accessibility bill? Let us know by dropping a comment below or tweeting @Bluehost.