Department of Justice seeks public comment on making the web part of covered regulations within the ADA
Along with many of you, WebAIM celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While we have much to be thankful for, many of us in the web accessibility movement have often wondered when the Federal Government would provide direct clarification on the applicability of the Internet to the ADA. We do have the 1996 letter to Senator Harkin by the Department of Justice to point to the plausibility that the Internet is a covered entity. We all anxiously await each time there is a high profile court case to see if case law might emerge to support web accessibility. But today, of all days, the federal government announced something that should give those of us in the web accessibility movement even greater reason to celebrate.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Accessibility of Web Information and Services Provided by Entities Covered by the ADA. You can read the fact sheet, or the entire notice. In short, the Department is seeking comments on their desire to revise regulation to “…establish specific requirements for State and local governments and public accommodations to make their websites accessible to individuals with disabilities”. The Department is seeking specific comment on many things including the standards they should adopt, and if there should be any exemptions for certain entities (e.g., small business) before they publish their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This is amazing news! The impact that this will have for individuals with disabilities cannot be expressed. It is time for our digital society to forever include individuals of all abilities. The period of public comment is open for 180 days. WebAIM will provide our thoughts to DOJ. Will you?