Department of Justice Plans to Amend ADA Title II Regulations for Websites
The U.S. Department of Justice has announced plans “to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend its Title II ADA regulation to provide technical standards to assist public entities in complying with their existing obligations to make their websites accessible to individuals with disabilities.” The DOJ announced the NPRM will be published in April 2023 with a comment period until June 2023.
In its announcement, the DOJ repeated the purpose of the ADA is to protect individuals with disabilities from exclusion and discrimination in services, programs, or activities by reason of their disability. The DOJ acknowledged that, despite this overarching purpose, many public entities fail to incorporate or activate features that enable users with disabilities to access the public entity’s programs, activities, services, or information online.
This announcement comes after the DOJ released “Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA” in March 2022. In the Guidance, the DOJ listed poor color contrast; use of color alone to give information; lack of text alternatives on images; no captions on videos; inaccessible online forms; and mouse-only navigation as several examples of website accessibility barriers. The DOJ suggested using color contrast in text, text cues, text alternative in images, video captions, and keyboard and mouse navigation to promote accessibility. The DOJ also pointed public entities and public accommodations alike to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Section 508 Standards for advice on ensuring website accessibility.
The NPRM will be the DOJ’s first set of regulations setting web accessibility standards under the ADA. While the NPRM will only apply to public entities under Title II of the ADA, businesses subject to the ADA under Title III will be able to draw persuasive direction from the regulations. And, this NPRM may only be the first step; many suspect the DOJ is considering similar regulations for ADA Title III.
For now, businesses should continue to follow the guidance provided by the WCAG 2.1 and wait to provide public comment on the NPRM beginning in April 2023.