The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a statement on March 18, 2022, that stipulated the web accessibility guidelines under Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said: “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.”
Clarke added: “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.”
The official statement came after years of public pleas to formally standardize web accessibility standards in the nation. Both disability-related civil rights groups and businesses requested the government to specify the accessibility standards online in order to remove legislative ambiguity.
Despite the DOJ’s official statement, questions remain around the issue of web accessibility requirements.
This is the DOJ’s language in regards to businesses that are open to the public as stipulated under Title III of the ADA. The “Department has consistently taken the position that the ADA’s requirements apply to all the goods, services, privileges, or activities offered by public accommodations, including those offered on the web.”
But actual standards are still not noted. The DOJ states: “Businesses and state and local governments have flexibility in how they comply with the ADA’s general requirements of nondiscrimination and effective communication. But they must comply with the ADA’s requirements.”
The official statement mentions the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Section 508 Standards (for federal and local government under Title II), but only as helpful tools for web developers and designers, not as official compliance standards.
We at EqualWeb recommend all businesses conform to the WCAG 2.1 Level AA standard as ADA claims continue to skyrocket, targeting organizations of all sizes. If the law is vague, the best way to protect yourself is by remediating your website to the latest, most advanced web accessibility standards, which is the WCAG international standard.
Although the standard is high, we at EqualWeb developed automated web accessibility services that are both cost-friendly and effectively compliant.
Also, don’t forget that making your website accessible has practical perks to your business that don’t involve avoiding lawsuits. The more accessible your website, the easier it is for people with disabilities to engage, navigate, and come back to your website.
Comply with the law and get more customers with the EqualWeb accessibility technology. For more details, check out our pricing page.
For the Department of Justice’s official statement, click here.
Another thing to consider is that the guidelines page was put under a beta URL, so revisions are to be expected. We will continue to update our clients about all revisions and the latest compliance requirements, in the U.S. and elsewhere.