a person in a wheelchair in front a a futuristic screen, surrounded by ethereal-looking digital icongs.

Justice Department to Publish Final Rule to Strengthen Web and Mobile App Access for People with Disabilities

A new regulation was enacted this week and those involved in the development or management of state or local government websites should take note. Specifying the responsibilities of state and local government bodies in rendering their digital platforms accessible,  Attorney General Merrick Garland enacted a new regulation under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) aimed at improving the accessibility of online content and mobile applications for individuals with disabilities. If your organization has any sort of on-line presence (and who DOESN’T these days?) digital accessibility is more than just a nice idea — it’s the law. 

Who Must Comply to the Regulation

Consistent with the broader scope of Title II, this regulation encompasses all levels of state and local government, including any of their agencies or departments. The regulation also applies to special purpose districts, Amtrak, and various commuter authorities. What many website managers DON’T realize is that the regulation also applies to any third-party contractors engaging with state or local governments. For example, a non-profit organization managing drug treatment programs on behalf of a state agency is required to comply with Title II standards.

Why Web Accessibility Matters More Than Ever

Delivering essential services like healthcare, education, transportation assistance, financial transactions, etc is continuing to expand and evolve within the digital environment. We see this in all sorts of implementations such as telehealth appointments or real-time tracking applications for commuter systems, for example. This latest rule seeks to ensure digital inclusion for all abilities when utilizing state and local government digital services. And with this, the importance of web accessibility cannot be overstated. 

The Case for Compliance

So we’ve established that for any organization that has a website and is involved in some capacity with federal, state, and/or local governments, compliance with this new ADA rule is a legal obligation. But beyond avoiding legal repercussions, adherence to regulations such as the one signed by Garland on Monday ensures that services are accessible to a broader audience, including individuals with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological differences.

Beyond Legalities: The Benefits of Accessibility

So YES, you have to do it (and do nefarious individuals troll sites looking to exploit non-compliant domains for financial gain? YES!) But the benefits of ensuring web accessibility extend far beyond legal compliance:

  • Ethical Responsibility: Committing to accessibility is a commitment to equality and that all should have equal access to information and services. It is an active demonstration of an organization’s underlying values and ethical values.
  • Expanding Your Reach: Accessible websites and apps allow for a wider audience, promoting inclusivity and engagement across a more diverse user base.
  • Enhancing User Experience: Accessibility and usability go hand in hand. Implementing ADA guidelines can significantly improve the overall user experience (UX) for all visitors.
  • Economic Advantages: For commercial entities, accessibility can boost sales and foster customer loyalty. Public entities might see more efficient service delivery and potential cost reductions.
  • Reputation and Brand Value: Showcasing a dedication to accessibility enhances an organization’s reputation, demonstrating social responsibility and commitment to diversity and equality.
  • Future-Proofing: Early adoption of accessibility standards safeguards against future regulatory changes, saving time and resources in the long run.

Act Now to Ensure Accessibility

Don’t wait for legal mandates to dictate your next move. Ensuring your digital content is accessible is both a legal requirement and a strategic advantage for your organization. Ready to get started? Seek a remediation agency or partner with a digital technical project management such as Technology Project Solutions to learn more about how we can assist in your A11Y efforts and ensure your digital presence is accessible to everyone.