Public Comments for: HB2207 - Information Technology Access Act; numerous organizational changes to Act.
Last Name: Manners Organization: National Federation of the Blind of Virginia Locality: Arlington

This bill would provide governmental entities in Virginia needed guidance in order to comply with other existing federal and Virginia laws that generally require accessibility. The ITAA has not been substantively amended since its passage in 1999, and is long overdue for an update. In particular, it does not require accessibility for all persons with disabilities, only those that are blind or visually impaired, despite that fact that accessibility requirements under other federal and Virginia law are not limited in this way. In addition, the reporting mechanism to the Secretary of Administration in the current law is ineffective, especially for a parent of a child with a disability who is seeking information about inaccessible technology that may affect their child. This bill maintains important exceptions from accessibility, while making it clear that covered entities need to consider compliance with other applicable federal and state laws when exempting something from the requirement to be accessible due to excessive cost.

Last Name: Miller Locality: Christiansburg, VA

I write asking you to support HB 2207. This bill updates a consequential piece of state code addressing access to information and communication technology for persons with disabilities that has not been updated since 1999. The updates ensure that our state code aligns with Federal legislation, identifies Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as the guiding standard for access to technologies, brings K-12 schools under the same directive as higher ed and state agencies allowing for greater collaboration opportunities, and asks each entity to assign a Digital Accessibility Coordinator. Should we have another emergency response such as we had with the pandemic, knowing who to contact with digital accessibility guidance will be extremely beneficial for all. Updating the code will allow all Virginians to participate more fully in employment, education, and services offered by the Commonwealth. Members of the Communications, Technology and Innovation committee website Thanks for anything you can do to help move this bill forward. -Christa

Last Name: Joyce Locality: Charlottesville

o HB 2207 will broaden the definition of people with disabilities to include all disabilities, not just those that are blind or visually impaired which is now the case under current state code. o HB 2207 will bring K-12 schools under the same directive (re: ICT accessibility) as higher education and state agencies thus allowing for more collaborative solutions throughout the Commonwealth. o HB 2207 asks each state entity to identify a Digital Accessibility Coordinator providing a contact for the dissemination of digital accessibility guidance and tools across the state. o HB 2207 identifies Section 508 as the digital accessibility standard thereby providing guidance when developing online job applications, academic online materials, and the development of digital tools for use by all Virginians. o HB 2207 will improve access to information and communications technology for all Virginians, including those with disabilities. This will not only lead to better educational outcomes for individuals with disabilities, but also increase opportunities for gainful employment.

Last Name: Simmons Locality: Albemarle

HB 2207 is an easy bill to vote for - provides access and resources to all Virginians, regardless of disabilities. Digital platforms and technology have become crucial to navigate all things big and small and all Virginians should have equal access to these resources.

Last Name: Teachman Locality: Charlottesville

o HB 2207 will broaden the definition of people with disabilities to include all disabilities, not just those that are blind or visually impaired which is now the case under current state code. o HB 2207 will bring K-12 schools under the same directive (re: ICT accessibility) as higher education and state agencies thus allowing for more collaborative solutions throughout the Commonwealth. o HB 2207 asks each state entity to identify a Digital Accessibility Coordinator providing a contact for the dissemination of digital accessibility guidance and tools across the state. o HB 2207 identifies Section 508 as the digital accessibility standard thereby providing guidance when developing online job applications, academic online materials, and the development of digital tools for use by all Virginians. o HB 2207 will improve access to information and communications technology for all Virginians, including those with disabilities. This will not only lead to better educational outcomes for individuals with disabilities, but also increase opportunities for gainful employment.

Last Name: Krentz Locality: Albemarle

As a deaf faculty member at the University of Virginia who benefits from captioning, I wholeheartedly support this bill. Disabled people can do so much if we give them the access and tools to succeed!

Last Name: Casper Organization: University of Virginia Locality: Charlottesville

I ask that you please move House Bill 2207 forward, as it will improve access to information and communications technology for all Virginians, including those with disabilities. This will not only lead to better educational outcomes for individuals with disabilities, but also increase opportunities for gainful employment.

Last Name: Morgan Locality: Charlottesville

Please vote in support of House Bill 2207 introduced by Delegate Kathy Tran. Not only would HB 2207 update the current code to include all disabilities (currently it focuses only on the blind and visually impaired) it would provide cohesive direction to educators and providers from K-12 through higher education as well as state agencies. This would allow organizations and institutions across the Commonwealth of Virginia to leverage relevant resources and collaborate more effectively to more equitably serve our citizens. As an employee at an institution of higher education who is dedicated to advocating for increased access, I urge you to support this bill. Although I've observed great strides in the area of digital accessibility at our institution, much work lies ahead and this remains an under-resourced area of accessibility throughout the Commonwealth. Furthermore, as a parent of a K-12 student with multiple learning disabilities, I know how challenging it is for students and families to access and advocate for much-needed resources to ensure an equitable educational experience. With more equitable access, students can then focus on their learning. Our Commonwealth's future will be much brighter when it is inclusive of all learners who are then well-educated and prepared to innovate and problem-solve. Thank you for considering support of HB 2207.

Last Name: Dioszeghy Locality: Harrisonburg

I write asking you to support HB 2207. This bill updates a consequential piece of state code addressing access to information and communication technology for persons with disabilities that has not been updated since 1999. The updates ensure that our state code aligns with Federal legislation, identifies Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as the guiding standard for access to technologies, brings K-12 schools under the same directive as higher ed and state agencies allowing for greater collaboration opportunities, and asks each entity to assign a Digital Accessibility Coordinator. Should we have another emergency response such as we had with the pandemic, knowing who to contact with digital accessibility guidance will be extremely beneficial for all. Updating the code will allow all Virginians to participate more fully in employment, education, and services offered by the Commonwealth.

Last Name: Asip Organization: The Virginia Council of Administrators of Special Education (VCASE) Locality: Powhatan

VCASE supports HB2207 for requiring expanded digital accessibility standards for Virginians with disabilities aligned with federal guidelines. It is critical that persons with a variety of disabilities have access to online digital resources as teaching, learning, therapies, counseling, commerce, civic engagement, and other state services have extensive use by citizens. ALL Virginians , including those who may have a wide array of disabilities, should be able to access Virginia online resources. Thank you.

Last Name: Murphy Organization: Norfolk State University Locality: Norfolk

I write asking you to support HB 2207. This bill updates a consequential piece of state code addressing access to information and communication technology for persons with disabilities that has not been updated since 1999. The updates ensure that our state code aligns with Federal legislation, identifies Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as the guiding standard for access to technologies, brings K-12 schools under the same directive as higher ed and state agencies allowing for greater collaboration opportunities, and asks each entity to assign a Digital Accessibility Coordinator. Should we have another emergency response such as we had with the pandemic, knowing who to contact with digital accessibility guidance will be extremely beneficial for all.

Last Name: Wulf Locality: City of Staunton

Dear Committee - I write asking you to support HB 2207. As a disability services practitioner, I strongly support the bill, which will increase accessibility for people with all types of disabilities. This bill updates a consequential piece of state code addressing access to information and communication technology for persons with disabilities that has not been updated since 1999. The updates ensure that our state code aligns with Federal legislation, identifies Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as the guiding standard for access to technologies, brings K-12 schools under the same directive as higher ed and state agencies allowing for greater collaboration opportunities, and asks each entity to assign a Digital Accessibility Coordinator. Should we have another emergency response such as we had with the pandemic, knowing who to contact with digital accessibility guidance will be extremely beneficial for all. This is a vitally important bill. I urge the committee to vote in favor of passage. Sincerely, Christina Wulf

Last Name: Singleton Locality: Loudoun

Since 2016, 14 public school systems, 3 colleges and universities, 3 counties (Arlington, Loudoun, Fairfax), 1 town (Warrenton), and 1 public library have signed either consent decrees or resolution agreements for failure to ensure equivalent access to information and communications technology (ICT), resulting in significant costs to achieve compliance. HB2207 seeks to address this issue by modernizing the Code of Virginia’s Information Technology Access Act, which has not been updated since 1999. It does this in four specific ways: 1. First, it updates how we define disability and information and communications technology (ICT), as well as the entities covered by this act. The existing legislation only defines disability in the context of “blind” or “visually-impaired” individuals, which is inconsistent with the Code of Virginia’s Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Title 51.5-40.1), the Virginia Human Rights Act (Title 2.2-3900), and, on a federal level, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Likewise, the definition of “information technology” in the existing legislation is inconsistent with the scope of ICT as defined in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Additionally, “covered entity” in the existing legislation only references state agencies, public institutions of higher education, and political subdivisions of the Commonwealth. This does not cover public school divisions, which also fall under Title II of the ADA. More Virginians with disabilities are seeking educational and employment opportunities and there is greater variation in the types of disabilities that must be accommodated. 2. Second, it seeks to integrate accessibility reviews into the ICT purchasing processes of covered entities by asking vendors to provide Accessibility Conformance Reports (ACR), which tell us how well their product aligns with Section 508 standards. Where conformance falls short, we would also like the vendor to provide us with a timeline for when their product could meet conformance. Right now, the responsibility for determining that information, the risk of a lawsuit, and the associated costs are borne by each covered entity. 3. Third, HB 2207 introduces equally effective alternative access plans (EEAAP), which is consistent with the language the OCR already includes in some of their more recent consent decrees and resolution agreements. The spirit of this section of the bill is also consistent with Section 508’s Best Meets Exception which acknowledges the “non-availability of conforming ICT” in some sectors and the need to provide an “alternative means” when this is the case. In practice, some covered entities are already doing this. 4. Finally, HB 2207 calls for each covered entity to identify a digital accessibility coordinator who would oversee these efforts. The need to dedicate staffing and have in place a transparent “grievance procedure” for ICT accessibility efforts is consistent with existing precedent. In most instances, an acceptable “grievance procedure” is to simply publish the name and contact information of the individual overseeing these matters so that everyone knows who to contact. These updates will bring the ITAA into alignment with existing state and federal laws, reduce costs and risks, foster transparency, and improve ICT access for all Virginians. Thank you for considering these comments!

Last Name: Bateman, L Organization: City of Fredericksburg Locality: Richmond

The City of Fredericksburg is supportive of digital accessibility, which is the overall goal of HB 2207. However, some of the specific requirements of HB 2207 may be difficult to implement. For example, the challenge that pops out immediately is the mandate to designate an employee to serve as the “digital accessibility coordinator.” In the case of the City of Fredericksburg, we are really challenged to recruit, hire, and retain IT staff as it is. There is a very competitive market for these skilled individuals. To ask an individual to “be responsible for ensuring the covered entity complies with [ADA and Virginia Disabilities Rights Act] is a very big lift. We think that HB 2207 might benefit from some time for localities to study, comment, generate fiscal impact, etc.

Last Name: Nichols Locality: Blacksburg, Virginia

I write asking you to support HB 2207. This bill updates a consequential piece of state code addressing access to information and communication technology for persons with disabilities that has not been updated since 1999. The updates ensure that our state code aligns with Federal legislation, identifies Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as the guiding standard for access to technologies, brings K-12 schools under the same directive as higher ed and state agencies allowing for greater collaboration opportunities, and asks each entity to assign a Digital Accessibility Coordinator. Should we have another emergency response such as we had with the pandemic, knowing who to contact with digital accessibility guidance will be extremely beneficial for all. Updating the code will allow all Virginians to participate more fully in employment, education, and services offered by the Commonwealth.

Last Name: Talbert Organization: TTAC GMU Locality: Fairfax

I am writing in favor of House Bill 2207, which provides updates to the Code of Virginia's Information Technology Access Act. HB 2207 will broaden the definitions of people with disabilities. It will include K-12 schools in the ICT accessibility directive, which will greatly benefit K-12 students with disabilities. The addition of a Digital Accessibility Coordinator for each state entity will expand the accessibility guidance and tools available throughout the Commonwealth. HB 2207 will increase the availability of information and communications technology for all Virginians, including those with disabilities. The benefit of HB 2207 would be that people with disabilities could have better educational outcomes and more opportunities for gainful employment.

Last Name: Nasevich Organization: self Locality: Charlottesville

I am writing to ask that you modernize and update current state law which requires all digital tools and assets purchased and provided by state entities to be fully accessible for those individuals with disabilities. HB 2207 will broaden the definition of people with disabilities to include all disabilities, not just those that are blind or visually impaired. It will also specify Section 508 of the of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as the standard guidance for developing and procuring IT technology. As a webmaster and certified web accessibility specialist, I fully support this bill!

Last Name: Zunder Locality: Charlottesville

I write in strong support of this bill on both a personal and professional level. The Information Technology Act is over 20 years old, and woefully outdated. It is time for our state law to catch up to federal digital accessibility standards (such as Sec. 508) - of which most of the IHEs, K-12 systems, and state agencies should already be in compliance. This update is sorely needed, and will have a significant impact on improving access, inclusion, and quality of life for Virginians with disabilities. As the mother of a K-12 student with a vision impairment, working towards equal access for his education (such as accessible course materials in large print, navigating learning management systems, etc.) is obviously a personal mission that is very near and dear to my heart. As a professional in disability support services in higher education, I also walk this walk every day to support my students. This bill would significantly improve my son's educational experience to create systems for accessible technology as well as oversight to ensure that the schools are doing what they need to do to include him (and those like him) in the full educational experience. At my University, it will be to ensure that we (as an institution) are doing everything we can in our procurement processes and procedures to do the same for the thousands of students who attend. In short, I strongly urge you to support this bill. Thanks so much for your time.

Last Name: Hayden Locality: Albemarle

I fully support HB2207 because it modernizes today's digital accessibility standards for Virginians with disabilities. Specifically: o HB 2207 will broaden the definition of people with disabilities to include all disabilities, not just those that are blind or visually impaired which is now the case under current state code. o HB 2207 will bring K-12 schools under the same directive (re: ICT accessibility) as higher education and state agencies thus allowing for more collaborative solutions throughout the Commonwealth. o HB 2207 asks each state entity to identify a Digital Accessibility Coordinator providing a contact for the dissemination of digital accessibility guidance and tools across the state. o HB 2207 identifies Section 508 as the digital accessibility standard thereby providing guidance when developing online job applications, academic online materials, and the development of digital tools for use by all Virginians. o HB 2207 will improve access to information and communications technology for all Virginians, including those with disabilities. This will not only lead to better educational outcomes for individuals with disabilities, but also increase opportunities for gainful employment.

Last Name: Neuber Locality: Chester

As a professional working in the IT accessibility field, I see firsthand how inaccessible technologies impact students and professionals with disabilities. Many products used in K-12, higher education, and the workforce present significant barriers to access. With inaccessible technology, students and professionals can be at a significant disadvantage impacting their performance, productivity, and enjoyment of their work. It can be challenging to get software and web development companies to devote time and resources to making their products accessible, even if they know it is the right thing to do. HB 2207 aligns accessibility requirements and processes across K 12 education, higher education, and state agencies. This will allow us to leverage resources and systematically ensure software developers have accessibility built into their development timeline. This, In turn, helps to ensure that all Virginians have access to the tools needed to be successful in their pursuit of education and employment. Please support HB2207. Thank you.

Last Name: Leonard Locality: Charlottesville

I would like to submit my SUPPORT for HB2207. I work in higher education in a department which includes our student disability services, so this bill not only could positively impact our department, but also so many students across the Commonwealth. I support HB 2207 for many reasons. First, it will broaden the definition of people with disabilities to include all disabilities, which we now have a broader understanding about vs when the current state code was written (and only includes those that are blind or visually impaired). It will include K-12 schools under the same directive as higher education and state agencies which will promote more cohesive and consistent interventions, education, and understanding of students and families throughout the Commonwealth. It identifies Section 508 as the digital accessibility standard for developing online job applications, academic online materials, and digital tools for use by all Virginians. In addition, it will improve access to information and communications technology for all Virginians, including those with disabilities - the pandemic has only highlighted the need for this to occur. This will not only lead to better educational outcomes for individuals with disabilities, but also increase opportunities for gainful employment. Thank you!

Last Name: Dioszeghy Locality: Harrisonburg

o HB 2207 will broaden the definition of people with disabilities to include all disabilities, not just those that are blind or visually impaired which is now the case under current state code. o HB 2207 will bring K-12 schools under the same directive (re: ICT accessibility) as higher education and state agencies thus allowing for more collaborative solutions throughout the Commonwealth. o HB 2207 asks each state entity to identify a Digital Accessibility Coordinator providing a contact for the dissemination of digital accessibility guidance and tools across the state. o HB 2207 identifies Section 508 as the digital accessibility standard thereby providing guidance when developing online job applications, academic online materials, and the development of digital tools for use by all Virginians. o HB 2207 will improve access to information and communications technology for all Virginians, including those with disabilities. This will not only lead to better educational outcomes for individuals with disabilities, but also increase opportunities for gainful employment.

Last Name: Gouldman Locality: Goochland County

HB 2207 will improve access to information and communications technology for all Virginians, including those with disabilities. This will not only lead to better educational outcomes for individuals with disabilities, but also increase opportunities for gainful employment.

Last Name: Ortiz Organization: Old Dominion University Locality: San Antonio

Listed as something that will be affected that will impact my role as an Instructional Designer: HB 2207 identifies Section 508 as the digital accessibility standard thereby providing guidance when developing online job applications, academic online materials, and the development of digital tools for use by all Virginians.

Last Name: Kressin Locality: Charlottesville

I am writing to ask you to vote in support of House Bill 2207, introduced by Del. Kathy Tran. HB 2207 would update current state code (Title 2.2, Chapter 35) to broaden the definition of people with disabilities to include all disabilities, not just those that are blind or visually impaired. It would also bring K-12 schools under the same directive as higher education and state agencies thus allowing for more collaborative solutions throughout the Commonwealth. Not only is it the right thing to do to ensure equal access for all Virginians, but the updates and modernization of current code would create a mechanism for oversight of procurement practices to ensure fiscal responsibility for the state.  HB 2207 will broaden the definition of people with disabilities to include all disabilities, not just those that are blind or visually impaired which is now the case under current state code; bring K-12 schools under the same directive as higher education and state agencies thus allowing for more collaborative solutions throughout the Commonwealth; asks each state entity to identify a Digital Accessibility Coordinator providing a contact for the dissemination of digital accessibility guidance and tools across the state; and, identifies Section 508 as the digital accessibility standard thereby providing guidance when developing online job applications, academic online materials, and the development of digital tools for use by all Virginians when interacting with state entities.

End of Comments