Clinton Rolls Out ‘Stream’ of Regulations, Including Guidelines Making Federal Web Sites More Accessible to the Disabled
"[D]etermined to fashion a legacy of major initiatives" in areas such as public health and workers' rights, President Clinton is "rushing out a stream of regulations," including rules protecting workers against repetitive stress injuries and miners with black lung disease, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. This "regulatory rush" is "not all that unusual" for the end of an administration, according to Brookings Institute regulatory politics expert Pietro Nivola. White House officials add that some of the rules "were in the works for months, even years in some cases." In response, businesses are "preparing a counterattack," hoping that Congress, the courts and President-elect Bush will "soften some of the still-unfinished rules and possibly roll back others." However, Bill Kovacs, Chamber of Commerce vice president for environment and regulatory affairs, said, "Once these regulations are in effect, it's very difficult to change them." Administration officials indicated that the president is "not finished" issuing new rules (Hebert, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/22).
Federal Web Sites Must Upgrade
Among the rules issued this week is one requiring most federal agencies to redesign their Web sites to "make the pages more accessible to people with disabilities," the AP/Dallas Morning News reports. Officials said that many changes "will be easy," but others "may be costly." According to the new standards, graphics must be labeled with a few words to explain each image, areas in color must be provided also without color, "complicated tables and similar Web constructs should have text legends" and Adobe Acrobat files must also be offered in plain text. Doug Wakefield of the federal intragency U.S. Access Board, who helped devise the new regulations, said that complying with the rules could cost the government between $100 million and $600 million. James Gashel, director of governmental affairs at the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore, called the standards "absolutely ideal." Sally Katzen, deputy director for management at the White House's budget office and chair of the federal council of information technology officers, added, "I think this is truly a significant step forward. It helps not only the disabled but all federal workers. This is where the federal government should be" (Hopper, AP/Dallas Morning News, 12/22).