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Class Action Suit Highlights Accessibility Issues of Government Website

April 2014 — Federal contractors have filed a class action suit against the Government Services Administration (GSA) regarding the accessibility of the System for Award Management website, www.SAM.gov, run by GSA.  The case highlights that, among many responsibilities, GSA is responsible for ensuring that all “federal contractor programs and activities are Section 504 compliant and accessible to [individuals with disabilities].” Use of SAM.gov is essential for all federal government contractors, as contractors are required to register with the site before any work can begin. Contractors must also renew this registration annually.  Yet the plaintiffs note that SAM.gov is not screen reader accessible and does not allow for keyboard navigation. Additionally, technical assistance staff employed by the SAM.gov helpdesk lack training to assist individuals who are blind or have low vision.  In a quote to Nextgov, attorney Matthew Handley noted, “It would be one thing if [the Environmental Protection Agency’s] website wasn’t compliant with screen reader software, but this is all the more troubling because this is the agency that’s supposed to be policing all the other agency websites and it doesn’t appear to be policing its own websites.”

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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.