When last we wrote on this topic in spring of 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was set to issue proposed regulations on web information and services for state and local governments. In a turn of events, the DOJ instead issued a rare Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SANPRM) in “order to solicit public comment on various issues relating to the potential application of such technical requirements to the websites of Title II entities and to obtain information for preparing a regulatory impact analysis.”
The Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD), with the help of our state partners, submitted a detailed response addressing many of the 123 questions in the SANPRM. The questions sought responses regarding the impact of the potential requirements on small entities and public institutions, assessing compliance costs, and a timeline for compliance, to name a few. Our response reiterated the need for the DOJ to balance the interests and abilities of state and local governments while ensuring access and equal opportunity via the implementation of enforceable cognizable technical standards.
Although ADA, Title II standards are still in process, the DOJ has attained settlement agreements with certain state and local entities requiring web access compliance with the ADA non-discrimination provisions and with the industry web access technical standard: the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA. As an example, DOJ’s Project Civic Access recently secured a settlement agreement with Milwaukee, Wisconsin that requires the city to ensure that its website and all online services, including websites or online services provided by third parties, comply with WCAG 2.0 AA, among other obligations. Also, in a recent consent decree obtained with the Ohio public institution Miami University we have seen the most robust obligations enforced against a public education institution to date.
With obligations and enforcement activities increasing, we urge public entities to review their websites, databases, e-learning software and other technologies to ensure compliance. As the ADA Coordinating Agency for the Executive Branch of Massachusetts state government, our office stands to be a resource for technical assistance on the topic of web information and services accessibility. Moreover, MOD was pleased to serve on the Strategic Sourcing Team for the new statewide contract for IT accessibility Services (ITS61). ITS61 can help government entities get expert assistance to ensure that information technology services do not discriminate against people with disabilities and can be used for testing websites and applications for accessibility among other things. Please contact our office for more information on this topic, and I will provide periodic updates as well.
MOD strives to provide technical assistance regarding web accessibility to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to web-based information and services.
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- SANPRM: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities 28 CFR Part 35 [CRT Docket No. 128] RIN 1190-AA65 (April 29, 2016)
- Settlement Agreement Between The United States of America and the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin DJ# 204-85-119 (June 9, 2016)
- Dudley, et al. v. Miami University, et al., Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-38 (S.D. Ohio), and arising out of United States Department of Justice Investigation No. 204-58-229 (October 17, 2016)
Requirements for Ramp Dimensions under the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board Regulations and the Americans with Disabilities Act Design Standards posted on Apr 25
This post is a follow–up to our recent post on ramp slope requirements. This post will guide you through additional obligations for width, handrails, length and landings under the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board’s (MAAB) rules and regulations and the Americans with Disabilities Act Design Standards (ADA Design Standards).
April is Autism Awareness Month in Massachusetts posted on Apr 21
April is Autism Awareness Month under Massachusetts General law. The prevalence of Autism today in the United States is one in every 68 children, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). That is more than double the prevalence in 2002, of one in every 150 children. April is dedicated to raising awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is estimated to be the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States by both CDC and Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM).
Municipal Americans with Disabilities Act Grant Program Now Accepting Applications posted on Apr 18
The Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) is pleased to announce the opening of the Municipal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Improvement Grant Program application and selection process. These grants will support capital improvements specifically dedicated to improving programmatic access for persons with disabilities.
Eligible applicants include any Massachusetts city, town, special purpose district and/or regional governmental organization. Grants of up to $250,000 will be awarded to successful applicants to remove barriers and to create and improve accessible features in cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth. Examples of eligible projects include the addition of features such as ramps, elevators, power lifts, signage, communication access devices, and curb cuts.