Disability Caucus to press members about 508

Disability Caucus to press members about 508

The House Disability Caucus is lobbying fellow members to make their Web sites Section 508-compliant. At least one member of the 30-person caucus is introducing a bill to force the legislative branch to abide by the accessibility law. Of more than 400 member and committee Web sites, few meet the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, from which Congress exempted itself.

The Disability Caucus announced its plans to put 508 on member radar screens at an event yesterday on Capitol Hill marking the one-year anniversary of the accessibility deadline.

'It is unacceptable that Congress's Web sites are not accessible,' said Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who is drafting a bill. 'I think it is a matter of educating the members. It's easy to assume Web sites are accessible if you don't really understand what it means.'

Langevin, who has been a quadriplegic since he was 16, and Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.) cochair the caucus, which formed last fall and includes Reps. Major Owens (D-N.Y.) and Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.). Langevin, Morella and Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Administration Committee, likely will sign the letter to all members.

'We want to use the letter as a catalyst to get members interested,' said Morella, who said she has a staff member who is visually and hearing-impaired. 'We are aware of 508 but have never really taken a deep interest in it. The letter will help us get it going.'

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