The Department of Justice Issues “Web Accessibility Guidance”

On March 18, 2022, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued “Web Accessibility Guidance” for state and native governments and public lodging beneath Titles II and III of the People with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) (the “Guidance”). The Steerage, nevertheless, doesn’t provide any new insights from the DOJ on the difficulty of web site accessibility for state and native governments and public lodging, and doesn’t present any particular technical requirements for compliance. As an alternative, because the DOJ defined within the accompanying press launch, the Steerage is merely supposed to “offer[] plain language and user-friendly explanations to ensure that it can be followed by people without a legal or technical background.”

The Steerage, nevertheless, does include an outline of why internet accessibility is essential, the obstacles that folks with disabilities face with inaccessible web sites, and gives some examples of obstacles which can be generally encountered by individuals with disabilities. Examples of web site accessibility obstacles highlighted by the Steerage embody poor colour distinction for individuals with restricted imaginative and prescient or colour blindness, the use of solely colour cues for people who find themselves color-blind, the dearth of textual content options (“alt text”) on photos for people who find themselves visually impaired, the dearth of captions or movies for individuals with listening to disabilities, inaccessible on-line varieties for individuals with disabilities who could not be capable of fill out, perceive, or precisely submit varieties, and mouse-only navigation or the dearth of keyboard navigation for individuals with disabilities who can’t use a mouse or trackpad.

With respect to the way to make an internet site ADA compliant, the Steerage gives that “businesses and state and local governments have flexibility in how they comply with the ADA’s general requirements of nondiscrimination and effective communication” and that the DOJ “does not have a regulation setting out detailed standards” for compliance. As such, the Steerage gives that “[b]usinesses and state and local governments can currently choose how they will ensure that the programs, services, and goods they provide online are accessible to people with disabilities.” Lastly, the Steerage gives that sure technical requirements exist which can present steering “concerning how to ensure accessibility of website features,” which embody “the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Section 508 Standards, which the federal government uses for its own websites.” The Steerage, nevertheless, falls brief of offering any particular technical requirements for compliance.

In the end, for the reason that Steerage doesn’t include technical requirements and doesn’t provide any new insights from the DOJ on web site accessibility, the DOJ’s Steerage leaves many questions unanswered – questions that may seemingly need to be decided by litigation. We are going to proceed monitoring developments on this space and supply updates as new data turns into obtainable.

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