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ADA Compliance for State and Local Government Websites – Current Guidance

Timothy Stephen Springer 02/18/13

Our State and Local government clients often ask us about what is the target set of requirements they should aim for with respect to conforming to the American’s with Disabilities Act – specifically the Title II requirements of that act.  Short version, we recommend you conform to WCAG 2.0 A and AA requirements.

As with all things web and ADA related it is important to note that there are no specific published technical requirements that define how the ADA is applied to the Internet. This introduces a level of risk to any organization – public or private – since the target compliance requirements may not conform to final U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) issued policy.  However, a variety of public and private sector organizations have been sued for the inaccessibility of their websites under the ADA making conformance of the ADA a priority.  So what’s a site to do?

The closest thing to current official policy is a DoJ Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) relating to Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability: Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities and Public Accommodations.  This ANPRM was published about two and a half years ago and indicates that the DoJ sees the WCAG A and AA requirements as the logical implementation requirements for the web-based portion of services for organizations covered under the ADA. The U.S. Access Board’s recent ANPRM on the Section 508 Refresh provides a similar blanket mandate for the use of WCAG A and AA requirements as the baseline for the updated Section 508 requirements.  In addition, many recently settled web accessibility cases relating to the ADA have been settled by requiring the defendant organization to conform to either A or AA requirements, Section 508, or to a mix of both.

Therefore, while SSB stresses that no specific technical standards for the ADA compliance of web sites exist, SSB is reasonably confident in selecting the WCAG 2.0 A and AA requirements as the likely ADA technical standards.

Finally, it is worth noting that the DoJ is currently in a rulemaking process for Title II of the ADA as it applies to State and Local Government websites. The Department of Justice has issued guidance that a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will be issued in July 2013 to further develop the requirements for Title II of the ADA. These regulations will eventually amend 28 CFR 35. The Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) is 1190-AA65 and more information on RIN 1190-AA65 can be found on reginfo.gov.

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