Making the Internet Accessible for All: Move to have DOJ Issue ICT NPRM

When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was originally passed, the Internet was still in its infancy, relegated more to universities and federal agencies than the general public. It would make sense, then, that as the Internet grew, so too would protections for accessibility under the ADA. However, this has not been the case. For the most part, industry has been forced to comply with the ADA through legal proceedings, which routinely raise questions on how Title II and III of the ADA apply to web accessibility. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has for over a decade now indicated the need to develop such regulatory guidance. However, it continues to prolong the inevitable.

Part of the problem is that the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has failed to give a green light following a 2010 Announcement for Proposed Rule-Making (ANPRM) on Information and Communication Technology (ICT). In November 2015, the DOJ announced it had pushed back release of the Title III proposed regulations clarified through the aforementioned Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (NPRM) until 2018. In December 2015, Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), along with other senators, sent a letter to the OMB calling for an end to the delays, and to move forward toward issuing the NPRM.

Call for Action

ACB seeks similar advocacy from the House of Representatives calling for OMB to move forward with the DOJ’s ICT rule-making. On the 20th anniversary of the ADA, the White House identified this issue as a priority, and yet it will take over eight years before a proposed rule can even be presented. Americans who are blind deserve greater expediency for equal participation on one of the greatest and most influential mediums of communication in our society. It is far too easy for web developers to exploit the lack of guidance as an excuse for not making content accessible and the problem will continue to persist as ICT becomes more integrated into our lives and no clear guidance exists.

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