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ADA Title II: New Requirements and Compliance

Posted May 01, 2024


Posted May 01, 2024

A green accessibility icon following a winding path with JavaScript code on it that leads to a stylized version of a web page, next to a label that reads "ADA Title II"
A green accessibility icon following a winding path with JavaScript code on it that leads to a stylized version of a web page, next to a label that reads "ADA Title II"

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The Department of Justice signed a final rule under Title II of the ADA to enhance the accessibility of web content and mobile apps. We’ll discuss the new revisions and modifications and how they affect you.

On April 8, 2024, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) signed a final rule under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) that established specific requirements for web and mobile app accessibility. The new rule — which primarily applies to state and local government entities that receive federal funding — is designed to ensure individuals with disabilities have equal access to digital content.

Now that government entities have a clear mandate to follow, it’s critical they understand the requirements and timeline(s) for compliance.

Below, we’ll discuss who is impacted by the new rule and best practices for adopting the latest accessibility guidelines.

What is Title II of the ADA?

Title II of the ADA is a civil rights act that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in places of public accommodation. The act applies specifically to local government entities and public places. Under Title II, government municipalities are required to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, such as adding wheelchair ramps to existing buildings, allowing admittance of service animals, and providing handicapped parking. 

Because Title II was written nearly 30 years ago, it was designed primarily for physical spaces as the digital world was in its infancy. Today, the DOJ has repeatedly stated that public spaces also apply to online spaces, meaning all government entities must make their digital content accessible. The shift is part of the DOJ’s effort to more strongly align digital accessibility with public accessibility. Doing so ensures that people with disabilities have equal access to utilities, public records, taxes, and other government information. Not only does this provide users with equal access to critical information, but also promotes more inclusivity for all users. 

Digital content must meet the accessibility standards included in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to be considered accessible. Some of these requirements include providing subtitles or closed captioning for those with hearing impairments, audio descriptions for those with blindness or low vision, and more. 

ADA Title II Revisions and Modifications

The revisions to Title II included new technical specifications on which digital content must be accessible under the ADA. The new rules specify that digital documents — including spreadsheets, presentation files, word-processing documents, and PDFs — must conform to WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA standards. Additionally, the new rules apply to publicly available web content, such as new social media posts and audio and video content.

Who Does ADA Title II Regulations Apply To?

Title II applies to state and local government agencies, including: 

  • State executive legislatures
  • Towns and cities
  • Counties 
  • School districts
  • Local government programs 
  • Public education institutions
  • Universities and community colleges 
  • Special purpose districts
  • Water districts 
  • Public transportation and transportation services
  • Regional transit authorities such as AMTRAK
  • State and local government instrumentalities

How Do ADA Title II Regulations Apply to Third Parties

Under Title II, public entities must ensure third parties — such as agencies, vendors, and service providers — also comply with nondiscrimination laws when creating digital content. In other words, any content created by a third party and made available by a government agency must be accessible. Even if content is published directly by the business or by a third-party organization, it must adhere to accessibility standards.

For example, if a city government agency contracts with an outside mobile app developer to collect parking payments, the app must conform with WCAG 2.1 Level AA recommendations.

ADA Title II Timeline: Development and Compliance

The new regulations posed by the ADA came in response to state and local governments offering more of their services and activities online and via mobile apps. With the rise in online services, individuals with disabilities face more risk of encountering accessibility barriers. These barriers can keep individuals from accessing critical information or services or participating in civic activities such as town meetings or voting.

To decrease accessibility barriers, organizations will have two to three years to ensure digital content conforms to the new guidelines. A more specific timeline for compliance is dependent on the size of the organization; for example:

  • Organizations with more than 50,000 employees must be compliant within two years.
  • Organizations with less than 50,000 employees have three years to meet compliance standards.
  • All special district governments must be compliant within three years. 

Though organizations have some time before enforcement begins, we recommend taking action now. Not only does this help you avoid potential legal consequences, but it also helps you provide a more accessible, inclusive experience. Getting an understanding of where your current site’s accessibility is at is a great first step. A website accessibility checker — like this one from AudioEye — can give you a look into how accessible your existing site is.

ADA Title II Enforcement

The new Title II regulations did not propose additional enforcement mechanisms. Instead, the DOJ will continue enforcement actions, including filing lawsuits, entering settlement agreements, or taking administrative action.

Accessibility Compliance: Automation and Expert Help from AudioEye

Staying compliant with evolving accessibility standards can feel overwhelming — but it doesn’t have to. With AudioEye, adhering to accessibility regulations is incredibly easy. 

Our Active Monitoring and Automated Fixes leverage the speed of automation to find and fix common accessibility issues, getting you one step closer to compliance. But automation alone isn’t enough to stay up-to-date with legislation or plan ahead. That’s where AudioEye’s Expert Audits come in. Relying on years of expertise, human testers — including members of the disability community using various assistive technologies — manually test your website for more complex accessibility issues and provide Managed Custom Fixes to resolve accessibility issues. By leveraging the speed of automation and expertise of human testers, you can feel confident you’re working toward the DOJ’s accessibility deadlines and staying on top of changing accessibility regulations.

Ready to get started? Schedule a demo with AudioEye today.

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