The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently released a significant statement clarifying that digital accessibility is covered by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). DOJ has implemented a series of rules since 1991, and as of May 2016, had entered into 171 settlement agreements addressing ICT accessibility.
This statement came in response to a June 20, 2018 letter to the Attorney General from a bipartisan Congressional contingent seeking guidance and clarity with regard to website accessibility under the ADA.
As the Department wrote in its September 25, 2018 response letter:
The Department first articulated its interpretation that the ADA applies to public accommodations’ websites over 20 years ago. This interpretation is consistent with the ADA’s title III requirement that the goods, services, privileges, or activities provided by places of public accommodation be equally accessible to people with disabilities.
Additionally, the Department has consistently taken the position that the absence of a specific regulation does not serve as a basis for noncompliance with a statute’s requirements. Absent the adoption of specific technical requirements for websites through rulemaking, public accommodations have flexibility in how to comply with the ADA’s general requirements of nondiscrimination and effective communication.”
In other words, places of public accommodation are required to provide any digital goods, services, privileges, or other activities in a way that is equally accessible to people with disabilities. Digital accessibility includes internet website access, mobile applications, and other forms of ICT that can help public accommodations meet the ADA’s requirements of nondiscrimination and effective communication.
For more information about the ADA and digital accessibility, check out the following PEAT resources:
This resource provides extensive analysis and resources for employers and other covered entities to understand DOJ priorities related to website and ICT accessibility and how to proactively comply with existing rules and guidance.
Find resources to get started with training staff across your organization in the accessibility skills relevant to their specific roles. Topics include digital accessibility basics, web development and design, and hiring accessibility consultants.