How to Implement Website/ICT Accessibility Policies
Under the terms of the settlement agreements, DOJ has specified acceptable methods to implement website and ICT accessibility. These methods offer insight into how DOJ will likely enforce ADA compliance in the future. Some of the methods specified include:
- Adoption and Distribution of Website/ICT Accessibility Policy
- Evaluation, Testing, and Accessibility Plans
- Training and Guidance
- Responsible Individual/Office Coordinators and Consultants
Covered entities must adopt and implement a Website/ICT Accessibility Policy. The policy must cover ICT policies, technical accessibility standards, evaluation and testing, feedback, training and guidance, technical assistance, and a responsible individual/office. The policy must be distributed to all employees and contractors who design, develop, maintain, or otherwise have responsibility for its websites.
Covered entities must have a written evaluation conducted by an independent website accessibility consultant regarding the conformance of the covered entity’s ICT with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The evaluation must:
- Identify any ways that websites, mobile applications, or platforms are out of conformance with WCAG 2.0 AA; and
- Make recommendations to improve the accessibility of the websites, mobile applications, and platforms.
After the initial audit, the independent Website Accessibility Consultant must provide website accessibility evaluations on an annual basis to determine conformance of the websites, mobile applications, and platforms with WCAG 2.0 AA.
The website accessibility evaluation should include an automated accessibility testing tool acceptable to both parties to evaluate conformance of web content with WCAG 2.0 AA. Tests must also be conducted manually by users with different disabilities to identify any accessibility barriers not otherwise apparent through automated testing. At a minimum, this user testing must include individuals who are blind or have low vision, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and individuals who have physical disabilities affecting manual dexterity.
A covered entity must provide a notice regarding their accessibility policy that is prominently and directly linked from the website homepage. This notice must include a statement of the policy to ensure that persons with disabilities have full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of the covered entity through the website and its mobile applications.
The notice must include a toll-free telephone number where people with disabilities who are experiencing technical difficulties with the website or mobile applications can call for assistance. The notice must also solicit feedback from website and mobile applications visitors on how website accessibility can be improved. The notice must provide several methods to provide feedback, including an email address and a toll-free phone number to contact representatives knowledgeable about the website/ICT accessibility policy.
A covered entity must provide training on the Website/ICT Accessibility Policy, including Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) accessibility requirements, to all employees and contractors who design, develop, procure, maintain, or have other responsibilities related to ICT. Website content personnel must also receive the training when they are hired into a position that includes such a role. The training should identify “best practices” describing steps and resources for implementing the Website/ICT Accessibility Policy. In addition, the covered entity must train sufficient personnel to handle feedback provided by individuals with disabilities.
A covered entity must designate an employee who reports directly to a high ranking official as the Website Accessibility Coordinator for the covered entity’s website and other ICT. The coordinator must be:
- Knowledgeable about the requirements of Title II and/or Title III of the ADA, WCAG 2.0 AA, MathML, ATAG 2.0, UAAG 1.0, WCAG2ICT, WAI-ARIA, DAISY, EPUB3, and general website accessibility;
- Responsible for coordinating implementation of the website/ICT accessibility policy;
- A contact person for content providers regarding accessibility issues relating to its websites, mobile applications, platforms, and the accessibility best practices guidance; and
- Responsible for ensuring that the accessibility best practices guidance includes guidance on the accessibility requirements of Title III of the ADA and WCAG 2.0 AA, and reference to MathML, ATAG 2.0, UAAG 1.0, WCAG2ICT, WAI-ARIA, DAISY, EPUB3.
The covered entity must also appoint a cross-functional committee charged with monitoring and maintaining conformance of the websites and other ICT. This committee must assist and report to the Website Accessibility Coordinator, and also must retain an independent Website Accessibility Consultant who is knowledgeable about accessible website development, Title II and/or Title III of the AA, and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
The independent Website Accessibility Consultant’s duties shall include:
- Advising the covered entity on how to conform its website and its mobile applications to WCAG2.0 AA;
- Verifying that its website and its mobile applications conform to WCAG2.0 AA through a written accessibility evaluation, which will include recommendations to improve the accessibility of the website and its mobile applications; and
- Establishing the criteria for selecting testers with disabilities and reviewing the results of the tests.