In March of 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published new guidance on website accessibility for businesses. But many are concerned as to whether the new guidance provides clarity or even more confusion relating to accessibility standards. Website accessibility continues to be a hot-ticket litigation issue with over 2,000 lawsuits filed in federal court since 2018. Why? There is little guidance in this area which often leaves businesses in the dark.
An Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was issued by the DOJ in 2010 in response to an overflow of questions about the scope of website accessibility regulations. However, rulemaking efforts were put on the backburner and set aside by the Trump Administration in 2017. Last month, the DOJ attempted to revisit these issues by providing a guide for website accessibility compliance standards. Yet their attempt fell short on clearly defining expectations for businesses.
Currently, there are no official regulations concerning website accessibility. The DOJ referenced the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) when writing that the existing guidelines are helpful in providing direction for businesses. Although businesses must follow the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the DOJ states that businesses have “flexibility” to choose how they comply. This new update has only further blurred the line of how closely businesses need to comply with the set standards.
Unfortunately, businesses remain uncertain about how to code their websites in compliance with the WCAG and the ADA. It is reasonable to conclude that there will continue to be increased litigation in this area until the DOJ further clarifies how much compliance is enough. Despite the flexibility standard being unclear, the DOJ continues to hold businesses to a high standard of compliance when settling legal disputes.
Revolution Law Group is located in Greensboro, NC, and serves individuals and small businesses throughout the Triad and surrounding areas. To contact us please visit Revolution.law or call 336-333-7907.
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