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For 2014 SSB reiterates our prior year guidance for ADA technical compliance for websites to be the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA conformance level.   In reviewing the risk from the ADA, organizations should 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 an organization, since the target compliance requirements may not conform to final U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) or Access Board issued policy. However, a variety of public and private sector organizations have been sued for inaccessibility under the ADA.

The closest thing to current “official” policy is the 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 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.

This lines up well with other U.S. Federal government rulemaking activities.  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. The forthcoming NPRM for the Section 508 Refresh is widely expected to require WCAG 2.0 AA conformance for websites and electronic documents. The Department of Transportation’s recent Air Carrier Access Act rules require WCAG 2.0 AA conformance for covered sites.  In addition, nearly all of the 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, or to a mix of both.

Therefore, while SSB stresses that no specific technical standards for the ADA compliance of web sites exist, SSB remains highly confident in recommending the WCAG 2.0 AA conformance level as an appropriate target level of accessibility for general ADA requirements.