By Minh N. Vu

Last week, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued final regulations that govern the websites and automated kiosks of U.S. and foreign air carriers.  The regulations have not yet been officially published in the Federal Register but we wanted to get the news (and the regulations) to you as soon as possible. We will post more meaningful analysis and commentary in the coming weeks.

Among other things, the regulation requires U.S. and foreign carriers that operate at least one aircraft having a seating capacity of more than 60 passengers to ensure that their primary websites are accessible.  The webpages that provide “core air travel services” such as making or changing a reservation must comply with the Web Accessibility Content Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA (the “Access Standard”) within two years after the rule’s publication date in the Federal Register (the “Effective Date”).  All remaining  webpages must comply with the Access Standard within three years after the Effective Date.

The regulation also requires U.S. and foreign carriers that own, lease, or control automated airport kiosks at U.S. airports with 10,000 or more enplanements to ensure that any kiosks installed three years after the Effective Date meet accessibility standards until 25% of the kiosks at each location are accessible.  Within 10 years of the Effective Date, 25% of all kiosks at every airport location will have to be accessible. The accessibility requirements are similar to those adopted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2010 for ATMs. 

As we have reported, the DOJ is working on proposed regulations for the websites of public accommodations and state and local governments covered by Titles III and II of the ADA, respectively.  Assuming the agencies are talking, these final regulations provide some interesting insights into what may be in the forthcoming DOJ proposed rules.  Stay tuned for our next post on this subject.  In the meantime, here is a link to a story from the Washington Post: