Legislation around digital accessibility has made significant progress in 2023. Notable, of course, is the US Department of Justice issuing its long-awaited proposed rule-making for Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Much is happening supporting digital accessibility regulation at the federal, state, and even international level. We created this blog post to help you keep track of it all.
ADA Digital Accessibility at the Federal Level
The DOJ Posts Proposed Rule-Making
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) published its highly anticipated Notice of Proposed Rule Making about web accessibility for state and local government organizations. The public has until October 3 to give feedback.
The DOJ's proposal would revise Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that state and local governments provide accessible websites and mobile apps to a specific technical standard.
According to the remarks delivered by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta on July 26 in anticipation of the proposal, "This proposed rule would propose a specific technical standard that state and local governments would have to follow to meet their existing obligations under Title II of the ADA for web and mobile app accessibility.
It would help people with disabilities know their rights and help state and local governments understand what they must do to comply with the ADA and ensure their services are accessible to people with disabilities."
Digital Accessibility entered the spotlight for the ADA anniversary in Congress.
Senator Markey and Representative Eshoo reintroduced the Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility (CVTA) Act. This legislation would update and strengthen existing technology accessibility regulations to stay up-to-date with new technologies like video conferencing platforms to artificial intelligence. Many notable organizations representing the disability community endorse the CVTA.
State-led Legislation for Digital Accessibility
California proposes an assembly bill on website accessibility.
California Assembly Bill 1757 would make it unlawful for any resource provider to "intentionally, negligently, or knowingly construct, license, distribute, or maintain for online use, an internet website that fails to conform to the [WCAG 2.1 Level AA] accessibility standard."
If passed, the bill could dramatically significantly increase accessibility litigation for webs and apps in California. Developers might face lawsuits from both businesses and plaintiffs with disabilities. AB 1757 is in the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.
The Act Against Abusive Website Access Litigation goes into effect in Kansas.
A new Kansas law allows residents to sue plaintiffs and their counsel over "abusive" ADA litigation. As of July 1, 2023, The Act Against Abusive Website Access Litigation empowers Kansas businesses to sue ADA plaintiffs and their counsel to recover legal fees and potentially punitive damages for "abusive" website accessibility litigation.
More states move closer to more precise standards for digital accessibility on public websites.
In Rhode Island, Senator Ujifusa bills 2023 H-5106 (PDF) and 2023 S-0105 (PDF) would require that new, public state websites must comply with the web content accessibility guidelines 2.1 AA (WCAG 2.1 AA), while existing public access websites have until July 1, 2028, to meet WCAG 2.1 AA.
The Minnesota House introduced Bill HF-480 in January 2023 that proposes Minnesota Council on Disability funding provided to provide outreach, training, assistance, and auditing related to local government website accessibility,
In Hawaii, HB1419 requires that as of January 1, 2023, the Office of enterprise technology services develop and publish accessibility standards, known as the "Hawaii Electronic Information Technology Disability Access Standards," for all state entities to follow.
In Massachusetts, on the eve of the 33rd anniversary of the ADA, Governor Healey Signed an Executive Order Establishing the Digital Accessibility and Equity Governance Board to advance digital accessibility in Massachusetts. The board will "lead the active engagement in driving all digital applications to be fully functional and accessible for everyone."
ADA and Digital Accessibility in the Courts: Progress to Watch
Recent decisions in New York courts may signal growing frustration with serial filers of ADA-based website accessibility lawsuits, including
- Winegard v. Golftec Intellectual Property, LLC et al.
- Suris v. Crutchfield New Media, LLC
- Rendon v Berry Global Inc
The Supreme Court will review an ADA-based web accessibility case with a decision expected next year, July 2024. In Acheson Hotels, LLC v. Laufer, The US Supreme Court will address if "a self-appointed Americans with Disabilities Act 'tester' have Article III standing to challenge a place of public accommodation's failure to provide disability accessibility information on its website, even if she lacks any intention of visiting that place of public accommodation?"
A Significant Accessibility Deadline for the EU gets closer
More than halfway through 2023, we are closer to the European Accessibility Act deadline. By June 28, 2025, businesses, including US businesses selling into the EU, must ensure that products and services covered by the Act are accessible.
Stay updated on Digital Accessibility Regulations and Litigation
In addition to providing data on digital accessibility lawsuits, the UsableNet lawsuit tracker includes resources from around the web to keep you updated on digital accessibility regulations that may impact your business.
Our July webinar, Digital Accessibility Lawsuits in 2023, included a segment featuring DLA Partner Joe Piesco discussing the legislation and case rulings impacting digital accessibility and the rise of ADA-based digital lawsuits. Register now to watch that webinar for free on-demand.
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