The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) has released a brief on the importance of a statewide digital accessibility coordinator position. In the primer, NASCIO outlines the roles and responsibilities of such a position, why it’s important, and advice for states that do not currently have such a role.
“With the expansion of digital government services, accessibility is an imperative,” said Meredith Ward, NASCIO deputy executive director. “With nearly 40 percent of citizens over the age of 16 now having at least one disability, making these digital services accessible is more important than ever.”
NASCIO notes that digital accessibility coordinator is a generic term to describe this role and titles may vary. Title examples include statewide digital accessibility coordinator, chief IT accessibility officer, and chief information accessibility officer. Positions can be created at the discretion of the state CIO, via legislation, or via executive order.
NASCIO notes that there are currently at least 15 states that have a digital accessibility coordinator role who heads the digital accessibility team and many more that have plans to create the positions who contributed to this report.
In the briefing, NASCIO highlights the benefits a statewide digital accessibility coordinator brings to their government. According to NASCIO, a digital accessibility coordinator can be responsible for:
- Improving access to state programs and services, making interaction with government easier.
- Assessing and implementing user accessibility and user experience improvements for digital products and services.
- Developing and implementing statewide digital accessibility policies, practices and/or strategic plan. Audit state websites, social media platforms, portals, applications, internal systems, and processes.
- Advocating for accessibility best practices (beyond simply compliance) to state agencies.
- Conducting accessibility training for state employees, providing technical expertise, and evangelizing the importance of digital accessibility.
- Working with the procurement office and vendors to ensure contracted products and services are accessible.
- Collaborating with agencies outside of the CIO office including human resources, state ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) coordinators, and EEO (equal opportunity coordinators).
In terms of advice for states that currently do not have this position but are interested in creating it for their state government, NASCIO turned to community members who have already rolled out the position. NASCIO members recommend assembling a review team to make sure policies and procedures are where they need to be. NASCIO members also recommend working with all statewide departments to have consistent policies across the state and documenting the true cost of the position versus the cost and risk to the state of not having one.
“Ensure there is leadership support and associate this position with a wider effort to build a digital accessibility program. Enable communication channels within the organization and consult with other states who have this role to identify best practices and where this role may best fit organizationally,” said Henry Quintal, digital accessibility coordinator, State of Maine.