Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Congress Considering Action to Provide Legal Expectations for Web Accessibility

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

As mentioned in a previous Bulletin, on March 18, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a press release updating the guidance on web accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The update concerned how state and local governments (entities covered by ADA Title II) and businesses open to the public (covered by ADA Title III) must ensure that their websites are accessible to people with disabilities, as required under the ADA. However, since the ADA predates the internet, no regulatory standards exist to advise businesses on how to comply with the ADA. According to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), “Although this (new DOJ) guidance links to commonly used accessibility standards, until the Department of Justice issues regulations clarifying what covered entities are required to do to meet their ADA obligations, many accessibility barriers will persist.” AFB also noted that it is important for the DOJ to consider how applications, such as those downloaded to a smartphone, are covered under the ADA. A bill introduced in the House of Representatives, H.R.1100, the Online Accessibility Act (which you can read here), would amend the ADA “to include consumer facing websites and mobile applications owned or operated by a private entity, to establish web accessibility compliance standards for such websites and mobile applications, and for other purposes.” This Act, if passed by Congress, would give businesses the roadmap needed to correct accessibility issues. The DOJ maintains that web accessibility for people with disabilities is a priority, and it may address this issue in the future and establish enforceable regulations. For more information about this issue, please read AFB’s article, “Justice Department Issues Web Accessibility Guidance Under the Americans with Disabilities Act.”