July 25, 2023
Source: U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
The Justice Department sent to the Federal Register for publication a notice of proposed rulemaking under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that aims to improve web and mobile applications (apps) access for people with disabilities and clarify how public entities – primarily state and local governments – can meet their existing ADA obligations as many of their activities shift online.
Across the United States, people routinely rely on web and mobile apps to access a variety of vital public programs and services like employment and educational resources, voting information, health and emergency services, parking, and transit schedules. The proposed rule is particularly significant in the wake of the pandemic, as public entities have significantly increased the scope of essential services and programs offered through the web and mobile apps. It is critical for these technologies to be accessible for people with disabilities.
“This marks the first time in the history of the Americans with Disabilities Act that the Justice Department has issued a proposed rule on website accessibility,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “This proposed rule seeks to ensure that Americans with disabilities have equal access to the websites and apps that connect them to essential services provided by state and local governments.”
“This proposed rule, which is the culmination of years of work and collaboration, is a historic moment for the Justice Department,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “It will help enshrine the right of Americans with disabilities to access critical information needed to lead safe, productive, and prosperous lives.”
“This proposed rule marks a significant milestone in the Justice Department’s efforts to advance accessibility in the digital sphere,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This groundbreaking moment makes clear our commitment to eradicating the barriers faced by people with disabilities and affording equal access to online government programs and services that people around the country depend on every day. We will continue to use every tool available to ensure that people with disabilities are provided full access to the digital town square.”
As state and local governments continue to move more of their programs and activities online – from applying for permits to checking the status of service requests, registering vehicles, and paying taxes and fees – ensuring that people with disabilities have equal access to these same services is essential. When websites and mobile apps are not accessible, they can be difficult or even impossible for people with disabilities to use. This can block people with disabilities from readily accessing important government services and programs that others can quickly and easily obtain online.
The Department is eager to hear from the public and get input from relevant stakeholders on the regulatory proposal set forth in our forthcoming proposed rule. The proposed rule will soon be available for review on the Federal Register’s website at www.federalregister.gov. A fact sheet that provides information about the proposed rule will soon be available on www.ada.gov. The Department invites the public to submit their comments on the proposed rule once it is published. The comment period will be open for 60 days from the date the proposed rule is published. Public comments can be submitted on www.regulations.gov.
For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit the Department’s website. For more information on the ADA, please call the Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit the ADA website.