What is ADA Compliance?
The Department of Justice (DOJ) published the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design in September 2010. These standards state that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities.
The ADA differs from Section 508 regulations, which are an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and apply to all information technology, including computer hardware, software and documentation.
Who needs to follow these requirements?
The ADA standards apply to commercial and public entities that have “places of public accommodation” which includes the internet. The DOJ is currently determining the specific regulations but that does not mean website discrimination will be tolerated. The DOJ’s public position was clarified in the following statement made during the Netflix case:
"The Department is currently developing regulations specifically addressing the accessibility of goods and services offered via the web by entities covered by the ADA. The fact that the regulatory process is not yet complete in no way indicates that web services are not already covered by title III."
— Statement of Interest of the United States Department of Justice in NAD v. Netflix (page 10)
Who does the law affect?
- Americans with disabilities and their friends, families, and caregivers
- Private employers with 15 or more employees
- Businesses operating for the benefit of the public
- All state and local government agencies
How does a company comply with the ADA?
The ADA encourages self-regulation of accessibility standards and the Department of Justice is currently developing regulations to provide specific guidance to the entities covered by the ADA. Organizations are encouraged to use the WCAG 2.0 level AA guidelines as a guide on how to become accessible until the DOJ defines the regulations.
For more information on the proposed rulemaking by the DOJ, please see the ANPRM notice posted on July 26, 2010.
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