Accessibility Guidelines

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on December 26, 2017, that it has officially withdrawn its two Advanced Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) related to website accessibility: one under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applicable to state and local governments and one under Title III applicable to private businesses open to the public. The DOJ’s purported basis for the withdrawal of these two ANPRMs is to evaluate whether promulgating regulations about the accessibility of web information and services is “necessary and appropriate.”  Such evaluation “will be informed by additional review of data and further analysis.” The DOJ “will continue to assess whether specific technical standards are necessary and appropriate to assist covered entities with complying with the ADA.”

The announcement withdrawing the regulations follows the July 2017 decision to place the Title III regulations on the “inactive list” and ends efforts that started with the release of the ANPRM in 2010.

The withdrawal of these ANPRMs means continued uncertainty for website owners and operators as to the benchmarks that must be met to comply with the ADA, if any.

A draft of WCAG 2.1 that includes content through the latest CfCs accepted this week has been published. WCAG 2.1 adds new success criteria to expand coverage users of mobile devices, people with cognitive or learning disabilities, and people with low vision. Most success criteria are complete, but some are still under discussion.

According to the timeline, this is meant to be the final draft before entering CR. Messaging about this is available at: Final WCAG 2.1 Working Draft

Understanding content for this draft is available.

For the first time the Unified Regulatory Agenda breaks out all agency regulatory action into three categories:

  • Active
  • Long-term
  • Inactive

The agenda does not define these terms. However, it appears only the active and long-term matters receive a description and project deadlines.

This is the Trump Administration’s first Agenda and it reveals DOJ has placed web accessibility among other things under Title II and III of the ADA on the Inactive List.

Read more on the Unified Regulatory Agenda on the ADA Title III Blog

The California Dental Association (CDA) has responded to member calls and a recent communication from the American Dental Association regarding the need for website accessibility by adding a section on website accessibility to its AwDA-related resources.

The CDA has made, Americans with Disabilities ACT and Disability Rights Laws, available to its members for download on the CDA Practice Support webpage. This provides background on the federal law and offers members guidance on complying to the federal and state physical accessibility standards, requirements for communication with people who have hearing impairments and a Q-and-A with links to resources and the newly added guidance on ensuring practices websites are in compliance with the AwDA.

You can read more on the CDA’s new web accessibility resources on the CDA’s website

People with guide dogs can still drive, right? In my last post, I noted that I taught my guide dog, Darren, to bark for green and red, so I would know when to go. Of course, I’m just kidding! Darren has no way to know when the light is red or green. And, to satisfy the curiosity of one elementary student, he doesn’t know when the light is yellow, either.

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The 32st Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, known to people in the industry as the 2017 CSUN Conference, is being held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, CA from February 27 to March 3. CSUN, through the International Conference on Assistive Technology for Persons with Disabilities, provides an inclusive setting and hosts many groups including:

On January 9, 2017 the U.S. Access Board released a final rule that updates accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The rule also refreshes guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act.

"This update is essential to ensure that the Board's Section 508 standards and the Communications Act guidelines keep pace with the ever-changing technologies covered and continue to meet the access needs of people with disabilities," states Sachin Pavithran, Chair of the Board's ICT ad hoc committee. "The Access Board is grateful for the input it received from the public and stakeholders throughout the rulemaking process which greatly enhanced the final product."

The rule jointly updates and reorganizes the Section 508 standards and Section 255 guidelines in response to market trends and innovations, such as the convergence of technologies. The refresh also harmonizes these requirements with other guidelines and standards both in the U.S. and abroad, including standards issued by the European Commission and with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), a globally recognized voluntary consensus standard for web content and ICT. In fact, the rule references Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements in WCAG 2.0 and applies them not only to websites, but also to electronic documents and software.

"Throughout this process," according to Access Board Executive Director David M. Capozzi, "the Board worked very hard to ensure consistency with other consensus guidelines and international standards to promote global harmonization and facilitate compliance." He noted that, "ICT requirements that are closely aligned remove ambiguity, increase marketplace competition, and lead to better accessibility features and outcomes."

The updated requirements specify the technologies covered and provide both performance-based and technical requirements for hardware, software, and support documentation and services. Access is addressed for all types of disabilities, including those pertaining to vision, hearing, color perception, speech, cognition, manual dexterity, and reach. The rule, which will be published later this month in the Federal Register, restructures provisions so that they are categorized by functionality instead of by product type due to the increasingly multi-functional capabilities of ICT products. Revisions are also made to improve ICT usability, including interoperability with assistive technologies, and to clarify the types of ICT covered, such as electronic documents.

The Board released a proposed version of the rule for public comment in February 2015 and, before that, earlier drafts of the rule. The rule is based on recommendations from an advisory panel the Board chartered, the Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee which included representatives from industry, disability groups, government agencies, foreign countries, and other stakeholders.

The rule will take effect in one year. The Section 508 standards, which are incorporated into the federal government's procurement regulations, apply to ICT procured, developed, maintained, or used by federal agencies. The Communications Act guidelines cover telephones, cell phones, pagers, computers with modems, switching equipment and other telecommunications equipment.

The Board will conduct a webinar on the rule on February 2.

For further information, visit the Board's website or contact Timothy Creagan at (202) 272-0016 (v), (202) 272-0074 (TTY), or 508@access-board.gov.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is collecting comments on the importance of web accessibility for people across the country who have disabilities. They are focusing on state and local government websites that cover things like voting, emergency preparedness, public schools and other government services. Comments are due on October 7, 2016. For information on when and how to file comments see the blog post on the Law Office of Lainey Feingold website.

Websites can be made more accessible by conforming to the WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines put forth by the W3C. For more information on how to conform to these guidelines visit the Service section of the Interactive Accessibility website.

The W3C has selected the Web Science Institute and the University of Southampton to host its UK and Ireland Office. The office will be staffed by and Office manager, Susan Davies, Coordination Manager for the WSI and a Senior Advisor, Professor Leslie Carr, Director of the WSI Centre for Doctoral Training. The W3C offices are local points of contact for the W3C and work to bring the W3C and its specifications to an international audience.

Read the W3C press Release

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