Do not support the broad use of alternate conforming websites. Support the narrow use of alternate conforming websites only as a last resort and preferably as a temporary measure on the way to full accessibility of the non-conforming version.
It is the Rehabilitation Act’s stated policy that “all programs, projects, and activities receiving assistance under this Act shall be carried out in a manner consistent with the principles of […] inclusion, integration, and full participation of the individuals” (Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Section § 3(c), 29 U.S.C. 794, emphasis added). The use of conforming alternate versions is discordant with principles that demand inclusion and full participation of people with disabilities.
Practical arguments will be raised about the difficulty and expense of working toward one fully conforming website. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) and the supporting document, “Understanding WCAG 2.0” point to several instances where creating one conforming website would be difficult, if not impossible. These instances should not be the exceptions that are allowed to shape the rule. The law already provides safety valves for covered entities facing impracticable tasks; the doctrines of “undue burden” and “fundamental alteration” provide protection in these instances.
Practical arguments have been raised at every step of our nation’s progress toward full civil rights for all. When they are raised, they should be met with principled responses. The work necessary to make the information and communication technology of the federal government accessible to all its citizens will not be easy, but it is richly deserved.