One-fourth of all veterans have a disability from military service, and the median age of veterans is around 65 years old.
WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senate Aging Committee Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Chairman Bob Casey (D-Pa.) led a bipartisan, bicameral group of committee leaders in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough, urging the agency to improve VA website accessibility for disabled individuals. The letter was signed by the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs’ Committees, among others.
Veterans use VA websites to access a range of benefits including health care, disability claims, education and training, and housing assistance. VA employees also use VA websites to serve veterans. Without full accessibility of all its websites, disabled veterans face barriers to accessing the benefits they earned through their sacrifices to our country, and disabled VA employees face barriers in effectively providing those benefits.
“We write with continuing concern regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) poor compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was amended nearly a quarter century ago to require government electronic and information technology, including websites, to be accessible for individuals with disabilities. A report required by the VA Website Accessibility Act of 2019 showed that only eight percent of VA’s internet sites and six percent of its intranet sites are fully compliant with Section 508. This lack of compliance is a problem for the one-quarter of all veterans with a service-connected disability, as well as the 26 percent of the general public with a disability, including veterans, VA employees and people who might seek information from the Department on behalf of a veteran,” wrote the congressmembers.
“Given the enormous task facing VA, the lack of substantive remediation plans and the uneven progress toward compliance spanning multiple presidential administrations, we seek additional information about the Department’s plans to improve its Section 508 compliance.”
The letter was also signed by Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.); House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Ranking Member Michael Bost (R-Ill.); House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Chair Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Ranking Member Troy Nehls (R-Texas); and House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization Chairman Frank Mrvan (D-Ind.) and Ranking Member Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.).
Click here for the full letter to VA Secretary McDonough.