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Did the DOJ Issue ADA Website Accessibility Regulations?

Posted: May 26, 2022 | Author: CUNA Compliance Blog
ADA  compliance  Department of Justice  website accessibility 

Question: Did the Department of Justice ever issue ADA website accessibility regulations?

Answer: In a word, no. The DOJ never issued any final regulations setting out detailed standards for website accessibility. However, DOJ did issue guidance in March reiterating its position that Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to “all the goods, services, privileges, or activities offered by public accommodations [i.e., businesses open to the public], including those offered on the web.”

Some examples of website accessibility barriers include:

  • Poor color contrast. People with limited vision or color blindness cannot read text if there is not enough contrast between the text and background (e.g., light gray text on a light-colored background).
  • Use of color alone to give information. People who are color-blind may not have access to information when it’s conveyed using only color cues because they cannot distinguish certain colors from others.
  • Lack of text alternatives (“alt text”) on images. People who are blind will not be able to understand the content and purpose of images, such as pictures, illustrations, and charts, when no text alternative is provided. Text alternatives convey the purpose of an image, including pictures, illustrations, charts, etc.
  • No captions on videos. People with hearing disabilities may not be able to understand information communicated in a video if the video does not have captions.
  • Inaccessible online forms. People with disabilities may not be able to fill out, understand, and accurately submit forms without certain features, such as: labels that screen readers can convey to their users (e.g., text that reads “credit card number” where the number should be entered); clear instructions; and error indicators (e.g., alerts telling the user a form field is missing or incorrect).
  • Mouse-only navigation (lack of keyboard navigation). People with disabilities who cannot use a mouse or trackpad will not be able to access web content if they cannot navigate a website using a keyboard.

Businesses continue to have flexibility in how they comply with the ADA’s non-discrimination and effective communication requirements. DOJ points to the World Wide Web CWorld Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guideliness (WCAG) and the Section 508 Standards (federal government websites) for guidance on how to ensure the accessibility of website features. But bottom line, according to the DOJ: businesses “must ensure that the programs, services, and goods that they provide to the public—including those provided online—are accessible to people with disabilities.”

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