Justice Department Postpones Web Accessibility Rules
The Obama administration is further delaying plans to address how the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to the Internet.
In a notice published this week in the Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Justice said it is seeking additional public comment on proposed regulations outlining accessibility standards for state and local government websites.
The move comes nearly six years after the agency first solicited comments on the very same topic.
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“Since the department issued its 2010 (Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) on Web accessibility, the Internet, accessibility tools and assistive technologies have evolved. They have become more available, less expensive and more widely used,” reads a Justice Department notice explaining the need for additional public comment.
The delay comes in what is anticipated to be a first step to establishing baseline expectations for Web accessibility. The Justice Department has signaled that it intends to issue standards for government sites before setting broader requirements for other parts of the Web.
In a document last fall, the agency outlined plans to release rules “early in fiscal year 2016” applying to state and local governments, with additional regulations for non-government websites expected in 2018.
Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, called the decision to solicit additional public comment “deplorable.”
“Delaying the equal access of the blind to American society by failing to provide clarity in technology accessibility is inconsistent with the administration’s goal of full participation by people with disabilities,” Riccobono said. “The questions that DOJ raises in the Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking did not newly arise in the six years since the original Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, nor is the continuing evolution of technology an excuse for revisiting them.”
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