2023 in Review: Top Accessibility Stories

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4 different icons with one for the Department of Justice, one with two blue t-shirts with one having the NFL logo, the canadian flag and an opera stage with the accessibility icon

As we settle into the new year, it’s a great time to take a step back and look at how far accessibility has come in 2023.

This was a year when AI made its mark in the form of ChatGPT, an application that simplified creative writing and idea creation at the click of the keyboard, where we pushed for a close of the digital divide through accessible internet packages and computer skills workshops. 

Across the United States and Canada, there have been accessibility feats that not only caught our eye but made breakthroughs that will inspire others to follow suit for years to come. So let’s take a look at the top accessibility stories of 2023.

Landmark Rule on Digital Accessibility by the Justice Department

On the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to update regulations for Title II of the ADA

Title II of the ADA aims to improve web and mobile application access for individuals with disabilities and clarify how public entities, such as state and local government agencies, can meet their existing ADA obligations as many of the activities shift online. 

The proposal defined digital accessibility requirements for the first time in the history of the ADA. In a press release from The Office of Public Affairs, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta called the proposed rule a ‘historic moment for the Justice Department’. 

Icon of the US Department of Justice

The proposed rule was open to public comment until October 2023, and the Department of Justice is now reviewing the feedback received. If the rule moves forward as projected, there will be a seismic shift from accessibility being a market differentiator to it being a market eliminator in key markets. We’ll expect an update on the progress of the rulemaking process by April 2024.

Access Night at the Opera

Sticking on the subject of accessibility for all, it was great to learn that our friends over at Cincinnati Opera hosted an ‘Access Night the Opera’. Cincinnati Opera is one of the oldest and most highly regarded opera companies in the United States and is dedicated to connecting communities to diverse opera experiences. 

Known for its longstanding partnership with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, a roster of world-class singers, and a spectacular performance venue, Cincinnati Opera has received numerous accolades and awards, including a recent nomination for the International Opera Award.

To enable everyone to discover some of the world’s most exciting singers and conductors, access digital content, and book tickets, Cincinnati Opera implemented Recite Me assistive technology on their website.

A month after launching Recite Me accessibility and language tools on their website, Cincinnati Opera hosted ‘Access Night at the Opera‘ with a performance of Madame Butterfly, a production created by an all-Japanese and Japanese American creative team that transported the audience to a fantastical modern-day realm where reality and dreams intersect. 

The goal of ‘Access Night at the Opera’ was simple, to ensure audiences with diverse accessibility needs have a great night at the Opera through the use of assistive technologies. 

DEIA is core to Cincinnati Opera’s mission and the launch of ‘Access Night at the Opera’ involved enhancing access across as many touchpoints as possible such as:

  • Large print Programs
  • Braille Programs
  • Projected English translations – the performance was sung in Italian with projected English translations.
  • Audio Description – live descriptions of the stage action for those with visual impairments were provided.
  • Wheelchair Spaces 
  • Assistive Listening System – assistive listening devices were made available to enhance the sound of the performances. 
  • Website Accessibility and Language Tool – to further enhance inclusivity, the Recite Me toolbar was integrated into the website, empowering everyone to fully engage in the captivating world of opera.


If that wasn’t enough, Cincinnati Opera also hosted a sensory-friendly piano rehearsal of the Barber of Seville production. Tickets were free for this special occasion for individuals with sensory sensitivities and their guests.

Check out the gallery of images from both the Madame Butterfly and the Barber of Seville productions!

Canada’s Commitment to Accessibility 

Our next accessibility success comes from the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) Department of Office with the 2023-2025 Accessibility Action Plan, the first Accessibility Action Plan geared towards making Canada barrier-free by 2040.  

Aligned with the goals of the Accessible Canada Act, the Accessibility Action Plan details the steps the GAC will take to eliminate and prevent obstacles hindering the full participation and contribution of individuals with disabilities. 

This fantastic plan presents an overview of the GAC mandate and commitment to accessibility in seven priority areas including,

  • Employment 
  • The built environment 
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
  • Communication other than ICT
  • Procurement of goods, services, and facilities
  • Design and delivery of programs and services (internal)
  • Transportation

The 2023-205 Plan outlines concrete actions that the Canadian Government plans to take to improve accessibility in the next two years and so on.

NFL Breaks Barriers with Launch of Adaptive and Assistive Apparel

The National Football League (NFL) became the first professional sports league in the United States to release adaptive and assistive apparel. In October 2023, the NFL took a groundbreaking step in inclusivity by releasing this collection. 

Developed in partnership with G-III Apparel Group, the collection is designed for individuals who have difficulties dressing themselves, who require assistance from caretakers, or who have sensitivities to certain materials. 

The capsule collection has apparel from all 32 NFL teams and the line is made up of short-sleeved and long-sleeve shirts and hoodies with innovative features such as magnetic closures at the shoulder seam, button closures down the back, or magnetic closures at the neckline.

This collection aligns with the NFL’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and it was created to be functional and provide new options to empower fans to express themselves, as they confidently support their NFL team of choice.

Browse through the NFL Adaptive Apparel Collection here!

Dear Colleague Letter on Online Accessibility at Postsecondary Institutions

In May 2023, the Justice Department and the Department of Education issued a ‘Dear Colleague Letter‘ jointly reminding colleges, universities, and other postsecondary institutions to ensure their online services, programs, and activities are accessible to people with disabilities.

The letter emphasized the importance of compliance with Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, stressing equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities in all college and university activities. 

Many colleges, universities, and other postsecondary institutions increasingly rely on their websites and third-party online platforms, such as learning platforms, podcasts, and videos on platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, to provide services and activities for students. 

The letter highlighted recent web accessibility enforcement and activities, along with technical assistance available from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

WCAG 2.2 new guidelines icon

WCAG’s Brand New* 2.2 Guidelines

Last but not least, is the release of version 2.2 of the World Content Accessibility Guidelines.  

The World Content Accessibility Guidelines is a globally accepted collection of guidelines for enhancing web accessibility (WCAG for short). They exist to guide the public on how to make their digital services and applications, accessible to everyone.

Impairments that a user might have could include:

An illustration of an eye which is struggling to see through some blinds.


Glaucoma, cataracts or age-induced sight degeneration.

A stop sign is in front of a man trying to move his limbs.


Limited to no use of upper parts of the body such as hands and arms.

A red stop circle sits in front of a speaker making noise.


People who are partially or fully deaf.

A picture of a head with squiggly lines in it to represent someone struggling to think.

Thinking and Understanding

Dyslexia, Dyspraxia or Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The latest improvements in WCAG 2.2 are aimed at enhancing accessibility for users with cognitive, learning, or mobility problems, as well as those with impaired vision.  At Recite Me, we believe this is a fantastic step to creating a digital world that is inclusive for all.

Regarding what was added in WCAG 2.2, six new Level A and AA plus three Level AAA success criteria, were introduced. All information on what these entail can be found on our dedicated WCAG accessibility standards blog

A graphic of the Recite Me Scanner.

Just as a Reminder…

The Recite Me Checker makes website accessibility and compliance simple. You can create a website that is built with accessibility in mind and to WCAG industry standards by tracking your progress and keeping up to date with what needs changing to meet standards by law.

It’s great to see the guidelines are developing more and more every year as we move towards a further and greater digital world. With the 3.0 guidelines projected for a 2025 release, make sure to keep up to date with everything at Recite Me to get the details on everything digital accessibility!

In Conclusion

It has been a fantastic year in the world of accessibility. It’s great to see so many companies and organizations pushing for inclusion in all sectors. How are you going to contribute to inclusion in 2024? 

We are always looking to have discussions about inclusion so get involved in the comments on our socials.  

Top Accessibility Stories FAQs:

When does the Cincinnati Opera 2024 Open?

The Cincinnati Opera’s 2024 Festival dates will be announced at the end of January – but guests can expect the seductive melodies and thrilling drama of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Ontario.

How much does the NFL Adaptive Apparel Cost?

Prices range from $44.99 for a short-sleeved t-shirt to $64.99 for a hoodie. The collection can be purchased at the NFL’s online shop.

Are the WCAG 2.2 Guidelines a Legal Requirement?

Apart from the parsing requirement, these changes do have legal implications.

What is the new accessibility legislation in Canada?

The Accessible Canada Act is a federal law that aims to identify, remove, and prevent barriers facing people with disabilities. The goal of the Act is to create a Canada without barriers by 2040. Read more about this important legislation here!

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