Justice Department Finalizes Rule Requiring State and Local Governments to Make their Websites Accessible

On April 24, 2024, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (DOJ) issued a final rule revising Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The rule requires state and local governments to make their websites and mobile applications accessible for people with disabilities. The agency is adopting the technical standards of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA, which requires 50 success criteria to make websites accessible. This includes converting pictures and documents so they can be read with assistive technology for individuals with vision loss and providing captions for live and prerecorded videos for individuals with hearing loss. In their fact sheet, DOJ has also listed exceptions to this rule, including archived content that is not currently used, pre-existing conventional electronic documents, content posted by third parties under certain circumstances, individualized documents that are password-protected; and pre-existing social media posts.

DOJ released the following compliance dates for schedule for the final rule:

Public Entity SizeCompliance Date
Fewer than 50,000 persons/ special district governmentsApril 24, 2026-
Three years after publication of the final rule
50,000 or more personsApril 24, 2027-
Two years after the publication of the final rule

The Regulatory Flexibility Act covers small governmental jurisdictions with a population fewer than 50,000. This includes cities, counties, towns, school districts and special districts. On October 17, 2023, Advocacy submitted a comment letter to DOJ and commented that the agency underestimated the compliance costs and burden hours of this rule for small government jurisdictions. Small governments seek to provide accessibility for their constituents but have limited revenues and a lack of internal technical staff to meet this high technical standard. Advocacy recommended that DOJ adopt regulatory alternatives to develop final regulations that offer flexibility to small governments while improving website accessibility to the public.

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