WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

Dept. of Justice considers Web for ADA

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?


  1. Bill Griffiths

    I certainly will be, and I will be encouraging all the blind and visually impaired consumers I work with as an assistive technology instructor to make their voices heard. Thank you for getting the word out. I’ll do my part to spread the good news that web accessibility may be within our reach instead of a distant Utopian dream.

  2. Debi Orton

    What is the relationship between the DOJ ANPRM and the Access Board’s refresh of Section 508? Does anyone know?

  3. David Baquis

    A definitive answer to this question cannot be provided by anyone at this time because it would be premature. However, one thing is for certain, which is that DOJ serves on the Access Board. We collaborate well with them and will continue to work closely with them.

    It is obvious to all that DOJ would have an opportunity to consider referencing the refreshed Access Board ICT standards. It is clear that the Access Board has communicated its intent to harmonize with WCAG. And it is clear that DOJ would have to reconcile how to utilize the requirements of 508 and WCAG. They are not the only federal department wrestling with that question either.

    Remember also, that one of the ANPRMs addresses equipment. This also includes ICT and will also evoke the issue of how to use the expertise reflected in the Access Board’s refreshed ICT Standards/Guidelines.

  4. Bruce Bailey

    Follows is the direct URL at http://www.Regulations.gov, follow the link to “submit comment”:

  5. MatthewF

    I would like to point out that the “fact sheet”, while not 100% inaccessible, uses such atrocities as for headers. If the fact that ada.gov can’t root out this kind of junk from their own website, what kind of standards to they expect to be able to enforce on the rest of the web?

  6. MatthewF

    mm apparently this filters out angle brackets – that should read, “such atrocities as <p class=”hi”>”

  7. Cynthia Jones

    Accessible websites are not as complicated if all would simply get the dollar out of the picture. When an individual looses his or her visual ability they must find alternate resources to access that which is desired or needed.

    Just because you go blind does not mean you have to move, but adjustments to the surrounding environment must be made to ensure safety and accessibility.

    Many visually impaired rely heavily on web access for many reasons, education, work, shopping, news, are among a few. While each website has the ability to develop at owners preference, they do not have the right to exclude viewers because they are visually impaired.

    Four things often prevent viewers from accessing webisites”

    1. To many image of graphic files without alt tags, a form of discriptive language explaining to observer what is present. Example image of ladies black dress shoes. During the development the website engineer should include a simplified alt tag that will identify the content of the image. Another solution no image and total text description:

    Ladies black dress shoe with two inch heel – Most ladies know what this is and when blind brand, and comfort will outweigh visual appeal. If the shoe is a stelleto then the shopper knows the shoe has a very high sharp heel, vs a modern box heel most often worn in work environments.

    How often have people thought about a picture is worth a thousand words and reversing the order for the blind or visually impaired?

    2. Eliminate checkboxes all the way around these are not elements that are unified by all screen readers and one may be asking the user to select a product or other factor and it is wrong creating an instance of excange or disatisfaction with the viewer from the onset.

    3. Emiminate radio buttons again inaccessible when assumption is the result rather than validtion. Ask yourself “I am blind, now I am being asked to select an object or answer based on trust of a website developer I do not know. I cannot afford to pay over a thousand dollars for screen reading software and my current software will not tell me what is present?

    Remove the dollar and enlist compassion this will prove more positive than any other method of website development.

    Look at Warren Buffet – Key to success “Less is More” where his site http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/ is based on text. Where all users have access not a select few.

    4. Limit personal questions do not ask a persons birthday, where not necessary, do not ask for their personal residential address this presents potential danger to the viewer do not ask for any information up front to access a site this is like telling a visitor to a resturant you can eat here but you have to disclose your personal history before you are allowed.

    People take privacy very seriously and this should be stopped.

    Communication is a two way factor. If the website owner wishes to enlist viewer participation they should consider all options necessary to sell their product or to get their message across including accessibility for the blind.

  8. Cynthia Jones

    Previous comment – I am blind and I can access this because I did not have to use radio buttons or check boxes and filter through image files or disclose a lot of personal information.

    This is prime example of simplicity to accessibility for the blind.

  9. Glenn Beers

    Hello, everyone. I am blind myself,

  10. Glenn Beers

    Hello, Everyone.

    I am blind myself, and I am also a Web Designer. I am glad to see that the DOJ is taking a good look at this issue. I get tired of going to web sites, to only find out that it is not accessible, for some reason or another. It is my personal commitment to make any of my websites as accessible to all users as possible, and it does not take any more time or money to do so, just the fore thought in the beginning. I also feel, that it should be a requirement of anyone or any business, that is doing business on the web, no matter how big or small the business may be.

    Now as far as check boxes and radio buttons, they are necessary for the most part, but in some cases they could be eliminated and in-loo of the boxes and radio buttons, I am sure there is a way to get that information, that can accommodate everyone.
    Now for the privacy issue, that is there so that the company or individual can get information on you, for purposes of knowing how to target their audience.

    You can be sure of my help in this matter, I will gladly pass this blog on, and to anyone and everyone I know.
    If, you do go to my website or blogg, I am sorry to say they are not ready for the public, I am still working on them. But I do hope to have them up and running soon. Thank you and have a nice day.

  11. Cynthia Jones

    As a blind user, constant exposure to radio buttons and checkboxes prevent much access to many different areas of concern. Five years attending college using multiple text to speech screen readers still there is no way checkboxes or radio buttons are guranteed to be the selection of choice.

    These form elements need to be replaced with alternative methods to respond to questions or to select answers. Example

    The sun warms the earth?


    Assuming majority will ask student or viewer to select by checking a radio button or checkbox. This is not readily acceptible to all blind consumers there for allowing user to complete answer in text box field marked “Select one true or false” as part of the question. When making choice consumer will make their own choice from among those offered.

    Stop forcing people to fill out online database resume builders and allow blind users to create in the environment they know and understand. Permit access to all federal agencies to accept uploaded resumes as a part of normal hiring practices. Tax payer dollars cover this right and DOL and other Governmental agencies need to stop infringing on the rights of the tax payer.

    Prepare a short list of required documentation – allow consumer to upload to repository and proceed from there. Consuemers are not paid to do the job of personnel adminsitrators and need to cease allowing computers to filter applications that treat conumers unfairly through key factor and key word elimination processes.

  12. Cynthia Jones

    Response to Beers – As a webdesigner there are many factors that aim to create visual sales pitch for the viewer. On the contrasting side blind users adapt through many different variables. Example one of my software programs reads all of the underlying html along with that which is on the screen creating a plethora of confused information.

    Asking a blind person to park the Mercedes would be unwise uless one is prepared to risk damage to the product. The same is with websites when one is trained to read (English) for example to read page from left to right not jump all over the place. Magazines, News Papers and other publications often use columns however still reading content from left to right.

    When trying to listen to a webpage through screen reading software, often one feels they are in a massive train wreck trying to sort the information after listing to

    html , image,image, image, htlm, table, all the underlying language utilized to create the page for internet presence.

    Freedom Scientific created JAWS but failed to tell the world the price of over $1,000 per viewer. Many blind and visually impaired cannot afford this. Other text to speech soft ware still cost upwards of $500 plus and work similar but different to JAWS.

    Jaws is a difficult program to learn requiring many different key code commands to be memorized. Disengagment of the num pad is not an option for one who works in the acocunting fields. So this is one more problem.

    The voices are robotic and very annoyning.

    It is easier to elimiate check boxes AND radio buttons replacing with text boxes and where conumer can write type their answer. Braille does not require check boxes or radio buttons, so why should others with text to speech software.

    Braille does not even spell out words completely it uses contractions for many words. Listen or view the following link and discover this is virtually impossible as Braille is an image not a text driven device.


    Jobs can be filled without forcing online resume builders and one resume can be used for a period of six months to reduce waste and cost in recruitment. One resume all job possibilities selecting those most qualified to do the job for multi-tasking aids in reducing cost in recruitment and hiring processes.

    DOL seems to be trying to make changes but refusing to accept uploaded resumes is not the way to go. The resume can be scanned and all data collected as it is uploaded to the data base. 256 million Americans in the workforce are not likely to yeild to the demands of forcing people to complete online resumes when they pay to have them drafted prior to job search.

    We are not robots and do not like these tactics. Application is one process but forced resume they way you want deprives the individual of his or her right to demonstrate the ability to be functional in understanidng the processes.

    Finally systems are set to timeout and many job seekers do not memorize 10 years of employment history, education and other data to pump into a computer system.

  13. deaf

    What is the exact URL to post comments? Thanks.

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