Reed Smith News Flashes

On April 8, 2024, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published a final rule setting forth digital accessibility requirements under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which applies to public entities, including state and local governments.

Under the final rule, public entities are required to adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Version 2.1, Level A and AA success criteria as the technical standard for websites and mobile apps that are made available to the public. WCAG 2.1, Level AA contains numerous technical criteria for the text, sounds, images, controls and animations that appear in digital content.

As detailed in our article on the proposed rule, Title II entities are generally required to adhere to the final rule within two to three years, depending on the population within the jurisdiction of each entity. The final rule adopts many of the exceptions contained in the proposed rule, including exceptions for archived web content; preexisting conventional electronic documents; content posted by a third party where the third party is not posting due to contractual, licensing or other arrangements with a public entity; individualized documents that are password-protected; and preexisting social media posts.

Notably, the final rule also applies to digital content created by private businesses for use by public entities. For example, as indicated in the fact sheet on the new rule published by the DOJ, if a city allows people to pay for public parking using a mobile app, that mobile app must meet WCAG 2.1, Level A and Level AA even if the app is run by a private business. Moreover, government web pages must adhere to the new accessibility requirements even if the web pages were created and are updated by a private business.