Brown, Goldstein & Levy partner Eve Hill was featured in a recent Washington Post article entitled “Disabled veterans say they often can’t make appointments, message their doctors or apply for benefits online.” The article examines how U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) websites and other technologies are inaccessible to over a million patients who are visually impaired or blind and rely on screen readers to access health care, apply for benefits, and more.
A new report released by the Senate Special Committee on Aging found that only eight percent of the VA’s public-facing websites and six percent of its internal sites are fully compliant with federal accessibility law, despite the fact that 27 percent of all veterans have a service-connected disability, and more than one million veterans are blind or have low vision.
Eve, one of the nation’s leading disability rights attorneys, is a forceful advocate for increased accountability and transparency when it comes to organizations’ accessible technology policies and usage. Federal agencies like the VA are required to purchase, develop and use only accessible technology under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. However, that often doesn’t happen in practice. Instead, enforcement of this law falls to agencies, which may take years to respond and often do not fix the problems – leaving veterans in the lurch. “We’ve had the fox guarding the hen house, agencies are supposed to be policing themselves, but it isn’t working out,” Eve Hill said.
Eve continued: “The only recourse veterans have if they aren’t able to use a website is to either file a complaint directly with VA or file a lawsuit. But filing complaints often doesn’t result in any meaningful change and lawsuits are expensive.”
Recently, Eve testified on accessible federal technology before the Senate Special Committee on Aging during its hearing entitled “Click Here: Accessible Federal Technology for People with Disabilities, Older Americans, and Veterans.” During her testimony, Eve offered her insight on the meaning and history of technology accessibility law as it pertains to Section 508’s requirements that all federal agencies to make their information technology accessible to people with disabilities. She also addressed areas where government oversight and accountability can be strengthened and best practices for achieving and maintaining web and technology accessibility in the federal government.
LEARN MORE ABOUT EVE HILL
Partner Eve Hill’s record of dedication to a wide range of civil rights cases has earned her recognition as one of the country’s leading disability rights attorneys. Her practice is dedicated to high-impact litigation on behalf of individuals with disabilities, and individuals, organizations and agencies alike frequently tap into her wealth of knowledge to advocate on their behalf. Eve also co-leads Inclusivity, BGL’s Strategic Consulting Group that works to help public and private sector organizations and industry groups navigate the rapidly changing landscape of disability and civil rights. Prior to joining BGL, Eve served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice for six years.