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Lawmakers Ask VA, DOJ to Improve Website Accessibility for Veterans, Americans

Web service access

Lawmakers Ask VA, DOJ to Improve Website Accessibility for Veterans, Americans

Lawmakers from the Senate Special Committee on Aging are asking the departments of Justice and Veterans Affairs to improve the accessibility of their online services to help seniors, individuals with disabilities and older and disabled veterans.

Sen. Bob Casey, the chairman of the special committee, said during a hearing on July 28 that veterans and older individuals found it difficult to access digital services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The problem emerged after agencies moved their services to virtual platforms.

Casey said the shift impacted a demographic that is more prone to injuries and disabilities and is likely to use online services more frequently than other groups, Federal News Network reported.

In a June 6 letter to the VA, Casey claimed that the agency had a poor compliance rating in webpage and online service accessibility since the enactment of the VA Website Accessibility Act in 2020.

VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in response that two of the most common websites, the VA .gov site and the My HealtheVet platform, received accessibility compliance scores of above 95 percent. He added that the two websites and other VA websites that experience high traffic volumes, are compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The Veterans Affairs Department will migrate information across different medical center websites to an updated VA .gov website and will limit editor access to make web-based services more efficient. McDonough also said a patient check-in tool will be available by September to address some issues that disabled veterans face.

For the DOJ, the special committee lawmakers are calling on the agency to report accessibility matters for public-facing federal websites. Casey said the last time that the Justice Department issued such a report was in 2012 when the agency reported mixed results for the implementation of Section 508.

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Category: Digital Modernization

Tags: Bob Casey Denis McDonough Department of Justice Department of Veterans Affairs digital modernization digital platforms digital services Federal News Network federal technology