For years, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been considering regulations on digital accessibility under Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). On Thursday, the DOJ issued its biannual Unified Regulatory Agenda, which listed both sets of regulations as “2017 Inactive Actions.”
The Title II and III regulations were expected to set clear guidelines for achieving digital accessibility in state and local government websites and the websites of public accommodations. It was widely believed the regulations would have adopted WCAG 2.0 Level AA success criteria.
The DOJ first announced its intention to regulate digital accessibility in 2010, when it issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. In April of last year, the DOJ issued a Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that reopened the issue for public comment regarding changes in internet, accessibility tools, and assistive technologies in the prior six years.
With regulation unlikely in the near future, private litigation regarding digital accessibility will likely continue to increase. ADA Title III lawsuits have experienced consistent year-to-year growth, with 37% more cases filed in 2016 than 2015. Without clear rules from the DOJ, it will likely take the courts some time to come to a consensus on how to treat digital accessibility claims.
For more information about the DOJ placing the proposed digital accessibility rules on the “Inactive” list, see Seyfarth Shaw’s ADA Title III blog.