SAM.gov Now Accessible in Compliance with Settlement Agreement with American Council of the Blind

WASHINGTON, DC –The General Services Administration (GSA) website is now, pursuant to a settlment agreement, accessible to blind users. GSA has completed testing of its SAM.gov website according to the terms of a settlement agreement reached between GSA, the American Council of the Blind (ACB), and three blind federal contractors. Plaintiffs were represented by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (“WLC”) and Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP. The completed testing confirmed that SAM.gov is now accessible and in compliance with relevant web accessibility guidelines.

In April 2014, Plaintiffs filed a putative class action in federal district court in the District of Columbia against GSA, the federal agency responsible for administering the federal government’s non-defense contracts, alleging that GSA failed to provide a website accessible to blind federal contractors, who, like almost all federal contractors, must register and annually renew their federal contractor registration on SAM.gov.

Resolving an 18-month effort to make the GSA-operated website SAM.gov accessible to blind federal contractors, the settlement agreement was reached in November 2015, requiring GSA to make significant changes to SAM.gov to ensure that it would be accessible to blind users. The inaccessibility of the website had prevented blind federal contractors from accessing the website and maintaining their status as federal contractors. The accessibility issues have now been remedied by GSA after undergoing review by SSB Bart, an independent accessibility expert. Going forward, members of the blind community will also now be able to test and provide feedback on future changes to SAM.gov.

Eric Bridges, Executive Director of ACB, stated, “Reaching agreement with GSA to make its website SAM.gov accessible was itself a victory for all blind federal contractors.  Confirming now that GSA has complied with its obligations under the agreement means that the victory is both real and meaningful, impacting the lives of people around the country.”

Lewis Wiener, a partner at Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP stated, “This is an excellent result not only for our clients, but for the blind community as a whole.  The Internet is part of our daily lives, and being unable to access any website—much less a website that is essential to doing business with the federal government—puts members of the blind community at an economic disadvantage.  We applaud the government’s efforts to improve its systems and to work collaboratively to bring this matter to resolution.”

“We are very pleased that GSA has taken seriously its obligations under the law and under the terms of the agreement,” said Matthew Handley, Director of Litigation for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee. “Blind contractors now have equal access to a website that is essential to their livelihoods, and are confident that the website will remain accessible in the future.”

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Eric Bridges
American Council of the Blind
202.467.5081
ebridges@acb.org 

Gregg Kelley
Washington Lawyers’ Committee
202.319.1000 x155
gregg_kelley@washlaw.org

Erin Corbin Meszaros
Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP
404.407.5030
erinmeszaros@eversheds-sutherland.com   


 

ABOUT THE AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND:The American Council of the Blind is the largest consumer-based organization of blind and visually impaired Americans advocating for the rights of blind Americans. Comprised of more than 70 affiliates across the United States, the organization is dedicated to making it possible for blind and visually impaired Americans to participate fully in all aspects of American society. For more information, visitwww.acb.org.


ABOUT THE WASHINGTON LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE:
The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs for almost 50 years has represented both individuals and groups seeking to vindicate their civil rights. It has handled over 5,000 civil rights cases, in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other aspects of urban life. It represents people with claims of discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, disability, age, religion, and sexual orientation. Leveraging its own broad expertise in discrimination litigation with the resources of Washington, D.C.’s private bar, the Committee’s litigation efforts have become nationally known for landmark court victories, record judgments and precedent-setting consent decrees. Its capacity to mobilize the private bar has made it possible for the Committee to provide its clients with more than 50,000 hours of quality legal representation every year. For more information, visit www.washlaw.org.

ABOUT EVERSHEDS SUTHERLAND: As a global top 40 law practice, Eversheds Sutherland provides legal services to a global client base ranging from small and mid-sized businesses to the largest multinationals, acting for 71 of the Fortune 100, 57 of the FTSE 100 and 119 of the Fortune 200. With more than 2,300 lawyers, Eversheds Sutherland operates in 61 offices in 29 jurisdictions across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the United States. In addition, a network of more than 200 related law firms, including formalized alliances in Latin America, Asia Pacific and Africa, provide support around the globe. Eversheds Sutherland provides the full range of legal services, including corporate and M&A; dispute resolution and litigation; energy and infrastructure; finance; human capital and labor law; intellectual property; real estate and construction; and tax. Eversheds Sutherland comprises two separate legal entities: Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP (headquartered in the UK) and Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP (headquartered in the US), and their respective controlled, managed, affiliated and member firms. For more information, visit www.eversheds-sutherland.com.

Copyright © 2008-2017 Washington Lawyers' Committee