By Kristina Launey and John W. Egan

Seyfarth Synopsis: DOJ issues useful new Guide to help small governmental entities understand the new web and mobile app accessibility requirements under Title II of the ADA.

On May 22, 2024 the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) published a Small Entity Compliance Guide to help people who work for or with state or local governments understand the web content and mobile app accessibility requirements of newly-issued regulations under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The Guide reviews reasons why the DOJ established these specific requirements to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the services, programs, and activities of state and local governments, and to provide greater clarity about what covered entities must do to comply with the new requirements.  

The Guide explains that state and local governmental entities must comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (“WCAG”), Version 2.1 Level AA technical standard for covered web content and mobile apps, subject to several exceptions, which are illustrated by helpful examples of situations that would satisfy, and fail to satisfy, those exceptions.

Under a “plan for success” section, the Guide advises that covered entities should create and implement policies, processes, and training to ensure compliance with the web content and mobile app requirements. These principles are generally consistent with terms of website accessibility settlement agreements the DOJ has entered into over the last seven or so years. The Guide also reminds covered entities of the applicable compliance deadlines based on the entity’s population size:

State and local government sizeCompliance date
0 to 49,999 personsApril 26, 2027
Special district governmentsApril 26, 2027
50,000 or more personsApril 24, 2026

The Guide should be required reading for every state or local government entity, large or small. While the compliance deadlines may seem distant, covered entities should be taking steps now to address these new requirements. Beyond Title II, the Guide’s discussion and examples of exceptions to WCAG conformance is particularly important for in-house web developers, accessibility and other compliance personnel, and attorneys of companies subject to Title III to carefully digest and consider, as the DOJ will almost certainly apply the same principles in enforcement actions and likely incorporate them in any Title III rulemaking process.