In April, U.S. Department of
Justice announced new regulations that require state and local governments to
comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (Accessibility Rules). Title
II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that state and local
governments ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to
benefit from programs, services, and activities. The new Accessibility Rules
serve to supplement the protections under Title II, which previously covered
local governments’ website content and online activity, but did not impose
technical standards of conduct. The Department of Justice has explained that
the new Accessibility Rules will ensure people with disabilities are able to
engage in virtual services provided by state and local governments, including
their ability to register to vote online, access public transportation
schedules, and submit requests to their representatives.

The technical standards imposed by the new Accessibility Rules, referred to as Level AA, are an intermediary
standard of compliance that was created by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In order to comply with the Level AA standard, government entities must offer
alternative text for images displayed onscreen, transcripts to be posted
alongside videos, a heightened color contrast, and consistent navigation across
the local government’s website or mobile app.

The Accessibility Rules will be
imposed on different units of government gradually, depending on the number of constituents
served by the government entity, the medium of web content (a website or mobile
app, for example), and the relative importance of the subject matter. For
example, the Rule requires that if the government body serves fewer than 50,000 persons,
those entities have three years to comply. Government bodies that serve more than
50,000 persons only have two years to come into compliance with the new
standards. The Accessibility Rules cover both web content and mobile apps, but
provide exceptions for archived content, preexisting documents and social media
posts, reposted content originally created by a third party, and individualized
password-protected documents.

more information about the Accessibility Rules here,
and the full text of the Accessibility Rules here.

Authored by Alexis Carter & Erin Monforti, Ancel Glink