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Thursday, May 2, 2024

DOJ Issues New Rules on the Accessibility of Web Content

In April, U.S. Department of Justice announced new regulations that require state and local governments to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (Accessibility Rules). Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that state and local governments ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from programs, services, and activities. The new Accessibility Rules serve to supplement the protections under Title II, which previously covered local governments’ website content and online activity, but did not impose technical standards of conduct. The Department of Justice has explained that the new Accessibility Rules will ensure people with disabilities are able to engage in virtual services provided by state and local governments, including their ability to register to vote online, access public transportation schedules, and submit requests to their representatives.

The technical standards imposed by the new Accessibility Rules, referred to as Level AA, are an intermediary standard of compliance that was created by the Americans with Disabilities Act. In order to comply with the Level AA standard, government entities must offer alternative text for images displayed onscreen, transcripts to be posted alongside videos, a heightened color contrast, and consistent navigation across the local government's website or mobile app.

The Accessibility Rules will be imposed on different units of government gradually, depending on the number of constituents served by the government entity, the medium of web content (a website or mobile app, for example), and the relative importance of the subject matter. For example, the Rule requires that if the government body serves fewer than 50,000 persons, those entities have three years to comply. Government bodies that serve more than 50,000 persons only have two years to come into compliance with the new standards. The Accessibility Rules cover both web content and mobile apps, but provide exceptions for archived content, preexisting documents and social media posts, reposted content originally created by a third party, and individualized password-protected documents.

See more information about the Accessibility Rules here, and the full text of the Accessibility Rules here

Post Authored by Alexis Carter & Erin Monforti, Ancel Glink


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