Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, is leading the charge on behalf of a group of senators who are calling for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to support online protections for Americans with disabilities.

Sen. Schatz and 12 of his colleagues are pushing for DOJ to restart a rulemaking process under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that the law applies to online services.

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“The United States has invested billions of dollars to develop technology and provide connectivity to all parts of the country, but it is of little value to the Americans who are unable to access the online services that the rest of us so heavily rely on,” the senators wrote to Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who leads DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

The letter says that more than 4,000 inaccessibility cases were filed in Federal and state courts referencing ADA compliance last year, however, their resolution remain uncertain without DOJ regulation.

“When Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, the Internet and digital technologies were at a nascent stage,” the senators said. “More than thirty years later, these technologies are now ubiquitous and we rely on them for daily activities – such as communicating with friends and family, conducting business, accessing government resources, and obtaining health care,” said the letter.

“New rules are necessary so that individuals with disabilities are provided equal access to the digital world,” the senators said.

Joining Sen. Schatz on the letter are Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Bob Casey, D-Penn., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.