Recently on March 18, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a “Web Accessibility Guidance” statement for state and local governments and public accommodations (including businesses) under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
A copy of the Guidance document can be found here.
In the Guidance, the DOJ clarifies once again that the ADA applies to websites: “the Department’s longstanding interpretation of the general nondiscrimination and effective communication provisions applies to web accessibility.”
The Guidance also provides some examples of website accessibility barriers, including poor color contrast, lack of text alternatives for images, lack of labels for forms, and mouse-only navigation design.
Many in the business community have called upon the DOJ to promulgate official regulations describing exactly what needs to be done to make a website accessible. To date, this has not been done. The DOJ clarified its position by stating that “The Department of Justice does not have a regulation setting out detailed standards, but the Department’s longstanding interpretation of the general nondiscrimination and effective communication provisions applies to web accessibility.”
The DOJ also referenced the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Section 508 Standards as resources for making websites accessible.
Finally, the DOJ provided sample ADA legal actions it has pursued against public and private entities regarding website accessibility as a mechanism of enforcement.
The recent Guidance seems to be a signal that the DOJ is renewing its focus on website accessibility, although official regulations are likely still many years away.