Justice Department Issues Web Accessibility Guidance Under the ADA

By: VITAC
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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has published guidance on web accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The guidance outlines how state and local governments (entities covered by ADA Title II) and businesses open to the public (entities covered by ADA Title III) can make sure their websites are accessible to people with disabilities in line with the ADA’s requirements.

The guidance discusses a range of topics, including:

  • The importance of web accessibility
  • Barriers that inaccessible websites create for some people with disabilities
  • When the ADA requires web content to be accessible
  • Tips on making web content accessible

It’s been more than a decade since the DOJ first issued its notice of proposed rulemaking on website accessibility, and nearly five years since the department announced that it was withdrawing that same rulemaking and technical guidance. The DOJ decision to abandon its rulemaking caused uncertainty for businesses, retailers, and owners and operators of public websites as to what, if any, benchmarks they must meet to comply with ADA requirements.

Last week’s guidance comes roughly a month after a letter sent by 181 disability organizations requested the DOJ promulgate enforceable online accessibility standards by the end of the current administration.

“We have heard the calls from the public on the need for more guidance on web accessibility, particularly as our economy and society become increasingly digitized,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This guidance will assist the public in understanding how to ensure that websites are accessible to people with disabilities. People with disabilities deserve to have an equal opportunity to access the services, goods and programs provided by government and businesses, including when offered or communicated through websites.”