Acceptable Guidelines to Achieve Website Accessibility

 Many of the settlement agreements require conformance with, at a minimum, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”) 2.0 AA, published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”).  In achieving such conformance and usability by individuals with disabilities, the covered entity may rely upon the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (“UAAG”) 1.0, the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (“ATAG”) 2.0, and the Guidance on Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies (“WCAG2ICT”), published by the W3C, as well as guidance published by the W3C’s Mobile Accessibility Task Force.

More recent settlement agreements clarify that for purposes of the settlement agreement, Web sites and documents will be considered “accessible” if they comply with the Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 (Dec. 11, 2008). 

As part of Project Civic Access, DOJ has undertaken compliance reviews of local government entities and entered into settlement agreements that include accessibility of their Web sites. Typical terms of the agreement specify:

“Within [a specified period] of the effective date of this Agreement, and on subsequent anniversaries of the effective date of this Agreement, the [local government entity] will distribute to all persons – employees and contractors – who design, develop, maintain, or otherwise have responsibility for content and format of its website(s) or third party websites used by [local government entity] personnel the technical assistance document, ‘Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities,’ which is Attachment H to this Agreement (it is also available at
Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, and throughout the life of the Agreement, the [local government entity] will do the following:
  • “Establish, implement, and post online a policy that its web pages will be accessible and create a process for implementation;
  • Ensure that all new and modified web pages and content are accessible; and
  • Develop and implement a plan for making existing web content more accessible.”

Equally Effective Alternate Access

“Equally effective alternate access” to ICT for persons with disabilities is based on timeliness of delivery, accuracy of translation, and delivery in a manner and medium appropriate to the disability of the person. 


The term “Website,” is defined to include: (i) all web pages, web applications, resources, and services within the Web site domain, its subdomains, and related domains; and (ii) all of the information, resources, files, databases, images, graphics, text, audio, video, multimedia, services, code, and any other communications sent by or retrieved from the Web site to members of the public accessing it. In specifying the covered entities' obligations, some settlement agreements distinguish between new and redesigned pages, pre-existing pages, and archived pages.