By Minh N. Vu and John Egan

Seyfarth SynopsisThe DOJ issued final regulations under Title II of the ADA requiring state and local government websites and mobile apps to conform to WCAG 2.1 AA in two or three years, with few exceptions. 

Update: On April 24, 2024, the Final Rule was published in the Federal Register.  Under the now-finalized ADA Title II regulation, state and local governments with a population of 50,000 or more will have to comply with WCAG 2.1 AA by April 24, 2026; those covered entities with a population of less than 50,000 will have until April 26, 2027 to comply.    

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced yesterday the issuance of a Final Rule which requires the websites and mobile apps of state and local governments to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 Levels A and AA (“WCAG 2.1 AA”) in two or three years, depending on the number of people within their jurisdictions.  The Final Rule does contain some narrow exceptions to this requirement, but is overall quite stringent.  Case in point:  Even though the WCAG 2.1 AA allows for the use of a “conforming alternate version” of a website to provide access, the Final Rule limits the use of such conforming alternative versions to where it is not possible to make web content directly accessible due to technical or legal limitations.  In addition, the DOJ chose WCAG 2.1 AA even though the federal government only has to conform its websites, under Section 508 requirements, with the less demanding WCAG 2.0 AA.

There is quite a bit to unpack in the 320-page Final Rule so we will back later with more analysis and takeaways.  In the meantime, the DOJ did provide a helpful Fact Sheet which contains a summary of the major points.  As we have mentioned previously, this Final Rule is important because it will likely provide the roadmap for future DOJ regulations for public accommodations websites and mobile apps under Title III of the ADA.  If the Biden Administration gets a second term, we predict such a proposed rule will issue.

Edited by Kristina Launey