The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) released a Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“SANPRM”) titled Nondiscrimination on the basis of Disability; Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities, which can be accessed at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-05-09/pdf/2016-10464.pdf.
In 2010, the DOJ initially released the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to receive comments regarding revising the regulations for Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and adopt web accessibility requirements. 75 FR 43460 (July 26, 2010). Presently, the DOJ is considering revising the regulation implementing Title II of the ADA and is accepting public comment until August 8, 2016. Specifically, the SANPRM is seeking input from the public regarding implementing requirements for all state and local government websites, including those of school districts, to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, which can be found here: https://www.w3.org/ TR/WCAG20/.
The SANPRM includes 123 questions relating to issues such as the level of accessibility standards, exemptions, and different requirements for smaller entities. The SANPRM also discusses the likelihood that the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 will be the standard for web content and that school districts will have two years after final adoption of the rules to comply.
Recently, the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) has increased their investigations of complaints relating to website accessibility issues around the country. Specifically, the complaints filed with OCR allege a school district’s or public entity’s failure to make websites accessible to individuals with disabilities. With the potential adoption of these new regulations, school districts will have to guarantee that all students with disabilities, as well as members of the public who have disabilities, have access to the school district’s website in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. We will continue to monitor the status of this proposed regulation and provide updates on this issue.
If you have any questions regarding your district website’s accessibility, please contact Jessica Nguyen.