Website Accessibility Legislation
A new bill has been introduced regarding website accessibility. In this article by William Goren from Understanding The ADA he reviews what the bill says and comments as appropriate.
- Findings: a physical location is no longer required. Therefore, this legislation adopts the approach of the cases saying that title III websites must be accessible to persons with disabilities if what is going on is of the type in 42 U.S.C. §12181(7).
- Definitions: WCAG is not mentioned but the principles of WCAG underpin the definition of accessible and accessibility.
- Definitions: the Architectural Accessibility Board has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding kiosks. It is not clear how this legislation affects that rulemaking. Of course, there is no guarantee that this legislation will ever turn itself into law or what the final legislation may look like.
- Definitions: §3(5) notably does not use the term, “place of public accommodation.” It is quite clear that §3(5) is talking about entities covered by title I, title II, title III, and §309 of the ADA.
- Access to Websites and Applications: §4(1) is a clear reference to the DOJ title II and title III effective communication rules. It remains to be seen whether the title III approach, interactive process with the entity making the final call, or the title II approach, primary consideration rule, is what the regulators push.
- Enforcement: interesting question as to whether compensatory damages would include emotional distress, especially after Cummings. It would appear from this legislation that the intent is that emotional distress damages are available.
- Recommendations: it is unclear, from a literal review of the Act, whether there are two separate advisory committees or just one. Logically, you would think there would be two separate committees but that is far from clear. See §8(5) below.
- Rules of Construction: not sure why §501 of the Rehabilitation Act is missing from §11(1).
- Effective Date: elections are coming up shortly. Regardless of your political persuasion and beliefs, go out and vote. Very unclear as to how this bill will proceed regardless of who takes the majority in each house of Congress because disability is not a partisan issue. Also, many constituencies are not at all happy with the wild West of Internet litigation that currently exists. All of this makes it very interesting to follow the course of this bill in the future.
- Here is the full article
- Editors Note: includes computers and peripheral equipment, information kiosks and transaction machines, telecommunications equipment, customer premises equipment, multifunction office machines, software, applications, websites, videos, and electronic documents.
- Editors Note: The term “application” means software that is designed to run on a device, including a smartphone, tablet, self-service kiosk, wearable technology item, or laptop or desktop computer or another device, including a device devised after the date of enactment of this Act, and that is designed to perform, or to help the user perform, a specific task.
- Editors Note: employee guidelines focus on job application, not normal operation of devices needed to perform job.