New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently blazed a trail not yet taken by other city officials and one only talked about ethereally by the US government. He appropriated legislation mandating that governmental agencies employ accessibility policies and ensure their websites adhere to accessibility standards.
The City has 6 months in which to establish a protocol for municipal websites. It will likely be that most will follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA (WCAG 2.0 AA) as these are swiftly becoming the universal guidelines that are being recommended, and the ones that the earlier Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, a federal government mandate, will adopt as its new standard as well.
“New York City is an amalgamation of cultures, heritages and languages,” Mayor de Blasio said during the bill signing ceremony. “That is why we strive to increase inclusivity, especially when it comes to New Yorkers with disabilities." It’s possible that New York City is setting a trend with this initiative. Other municipalities are expected to enact their own requirements, choosing not to wait for the Federal ruling that would make website accessibility a requirement at a higher, broader level. While the mandate in New York City is cause for celebration for people with disabilities and organizations like the Bureau of Internet Accessibility that assist companies in making their websites compliant with accessibility standards, there are concerns. One major interest is that if other cities make similar rulings autonomously, these could potentially dilute any progress already made in making a universal standard of Website Accessibility guidelines, thus creating inconsistencies and more gray area when the Department of Justice finally issues its oft-delayed regulations.