Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey signed an executive order (EO) creating the Digital Accessibility and Equity Governance Board. The goal of the board is to strengthen and advance digital accessibility and equity within Massachusetts.
According to the governor’s office, the board will be chaired by the newly established position of chief information technology accessibility officer (CIAO) within the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS). The CIAO will work alongside Jason Snyder, secretary of the Office of Technology Services and Security and CIO, to lead the initiative to ensure all digital applications are fully functional and accessible for everyone within the commonwealth.
“In Massachusetts, we strive to be a model for equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Through the leadership of Secretary Snyder and the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security, we’ve made significant progress on people-centric improvements to government digital services,” said Gov. Healey. “The establishment of the Digital Accessibility and Equity Governance Board represents our commitment to supporting individuals with disabilities and making government more accessible and equitable for all.”
The governor’s office said that through ongoing monitoring, support for testing, and internal reporting, the Digital Accessibility and Equity Program will ensure that digital accessibility and equity standards are aligned across the executive department.
Members of the Digital Accessibility and Equity Governance Board will include:
- The CIAO;
- Secretaries of executive offices;
- The governor’s deputy chief of staff for access and opportunity;
- The executive director of the Massachusetts Office on Disability;
- The commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing;
- The commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind; and
- Members of the public with expertise or lived experience with digital accessibility issues.
“Today, a majority of people interact with state government online and everyone has unique challenges, perspectives, and life experiences that affect how they interact with state services online,” said Snyder. “When we build digital services for people with different needs, we build better for everyone.”
The board will be tasked with developing and implementing strategies and platforms to promote best practices for digital accessibility and equity. In order to support the board’s work, the governor’s office said that a secretariat IT accessibility officer (SIAO) will be appointed for each of the governor’s executive departments. The governor’s office noted that in order to ensure accountability and transparency with the public, metrics to track the progress of the board will be displayed on a public-facing dashboard.
“It is critical that people with disabilities have access to the information and resources they need,” said John Oliveira, acting commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. “Governor Healey’s executive order takes much-needed action to increase the accessibility of websites across the Commonwealth, reducing digital barriers and enhancing usability for all.”