U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
April 29, 2016
Rulemaking addressing Web accessibility requirements is a high priority for the Department. The increasingly interconnected and dynamic nature of Web sites allows for easy and convenient access to the programs, services, and activities of public entities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Yet, individuals with disabilities are often denied equal access to the services, programs, and activities of State and local governments because many public entities’ Web sites are inaccessible. Public entities have also expressed the need for accessibility standards to help them meet their responsibility to provide equal access. The Department believes that adopting technical standards clarifying how to make a Web site accessible is crucial to achieving the ADA’s mandate.
On April 28, 2016, the Department of Justice (the Department) withdrew its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) titled Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities (RIN 1190-AA65), which was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review pursuant to Executive Order 12866 on July 9, 2014. Contemporaneously, the Department is issuing a Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SANPRM) titled Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities.
Through the SANPRM, the Department intends to solicit additional public comment on various issues to help the Department shape and further its rulemaking efforts. Since the Department issued its 2010 ANPRM on Web accessibility, the Internet, accessibility tools, and assistive technologies have evolved. They have become more available, less expensive, and more widely used. The Department expects that, in addition to being more current, the public comments on the SANPRM will be more detailed and focused than those received in response to its original 2010 ANPRM.
For example, the Department seeks more specific information relating to the potential application of technical accessibility requirements to the Web sites of public entities under title II of ADA. The Department also seeks information on the appropriateness of setting alternative requirements for small public entities. Moreover, the Department seeks precise information on the costs and benefits of Web accessibility that will aid in its preparation of a regulatory impact analysis.
Additionally, while the Department is already aware of many benefits of adopting technical standards for Web accessibility, the Department hopes to obtain more information about specific benefits, including benefits to persons with particular types of disabilities, and input on how to measure the benefits of Web accessibility. The Department also seeks to gather more information about the current level of accessibility of public entities’ Web sites, including the experiences of people with disabilities accessing public entities’ Web sites. In addition, the Department asks for specific data on the costs of Web accessibility and for suggestions about how to measure those costs.
In addition to the SANPRM, the Department intends to conduct research and studies as necessary to better understand the benefits and costs of a Web accessibility regulation. The Department intends to use the information gathered from the public, its research, and the studies to inform and advance the Department’s rulemaking efforts. Web accessibility continues to remain a critical component of public entities’ obligation to provide equal access to their programs, services, and activities under the ADA.