Tomorrow is the last day to submit comments to the Department of Justice (the DOJ) in response to the 123 questions the DOJ posed in its supplemental advance notice of proposed rulemaking (SANPRM) regarding the regulation of web accessibility under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The SANPRM was released in May 2016, after the DOJ previously elicited comments on this issue back in 2010.

View the questions posed by DOJ and provide comments using the online link.

Topics Related to School Districts include the following:

  • Timeline for compliance. The DOJ is proposing school districts have two years after the publication of the final rule to make their websites accessible.
  • Small public entities. The DOJ is again asking for comment about whether it should consider different compliance requirements or different timetables for small public entities.
  • Archived web content. The DOJ has a proposed definition of archived web content, content that would be considered an exception to the web access requirements. The DOJ seeks comment on the definition and information about how archived content is currently managed.
  • Linked third-party web content. Many school districts have questioned their obligations regarding third-party web content that is linked on the school districts’ websites. The DOJ has proposed an exception stating that third-party content is not required to comply unless the school district uses the third-party website or web content to allow members of the public to participate or benefit from the public entities’ services, programs or activities.
  • Mobile applications. The DOJ seeks comment on whether it should consider adopting accessibility requirements for mobile software apps.
  • Costs, benefits and methods of compliance. The DOJ requests significant feedback related to the various costs of compliance and the benefits of web accessibility. The DOJ seeks information regarding how school districts currently manage websites. The DOJ also seeks information about school districts’ current levels of web accessibility.

What should you do now?

As the close of the comment period approaches and we continue to await the final rule, as we have previously highlighted, the DOJ and the Department of Education continue enforcement efforts to ensure individuals with disabilities are provided access to web content. Thus, it is vitally important to be aware of issues of inaccessibility currently on your schools’ websites and make efforts to address them. Whether you have advanced to the point of conducting a web accessibility audit, or you are still working on drafting a web accessibility policy and identifying someone at your district to coordinate these efforts, web accessibility should be a priority area for your district. While your internal efforts regarding web accessibility are under way, we recommend establishing a reporting mechanism for individuals who experience an accessibility barrier; this will provide you notice of areas of inaccessibility and allow you to take appropriate action.