Accessibility Steps into the National Spotlight at Biden’s Inauguration

With every new presidential administration comes a new focus on policies and priorities. Right out-of-the-gate on day one, it seems like President Biden’s administration will be putting a sharp focus on inclusivity and accessibility.

Visiting the relaunched whitehouse.gov website, you can see that its Development team put effort towards making the site accessible to users with disabilities. The site sports static sidebar buttons to toggle high contrast and large font size modes. Visitors can also read the site’s Accessibility Statement, which states that it strives to maintain WCAG 2.1 level AA compliance. They also offer special phone numbers for the hearing impaired to provide feedback.

The President’s inauguration event on January 20, 2021 also provides some welcome focus on accessibility. First, the inaugural committee put up a page on its website, titled “An Accessible Inauguration” specifically detailing how citizens with disabilities could engage with the event. You will note that they hosted several livestreams for different accessibility levels, including American Sign Language (ASL) picture-in-picture, audio description, and cued language transliteration.

While this is great, take a moment to watch the audio description version of the event. Close your eyes and listen… the audio description is played on top of the existing audio. Users with visual disabilities essentially have to listen to multiple people talking to them at the same time. You can understand how frustrating that is, and how accessibility still has a long way to go.

One of my favorite parts of the inauguration was seeing Fulton County Georgia Firefighter Captain Andrea Hall recite the Pledge of Allegiance simultaneously in spoken English and American Sign Language. It signified that accessibility will be one of the priorities for this administration. My ultimate hope is that this results in the Justice Department putting a renewed focus on creating official guidelines for website accessibility.

If your website is in need of an accessibility overhaul, or you just need some consultation, please reach out to EGC Group via the form on our Contact page.