The Department of Justice is the governmental agency tasked with enforcing compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and strangely enough, the DOJ are now proposing “Web Standards” for ADA compatibility.

I say — “strangely” — because one would have surmised that having a “fully accessible web” would have been one of the first hallmarks of the ADA in at least the 2008 revision.

But, no.

Witness this week’s warning announcement from the DOJ:

When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990, the Internet as we know today did not exist. Today, the Internet—most notably the sites of the World Wide Web (Web)—plays a critical role in the daily personal, professional, civic, and business life of Americans. Increasingly, governmental and private entities covered by the ADA are providing goods, services, and programs to the public through their websites.

However, many of these websites are not readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. While the Department did not include proposed Web accessibility provisions in its 2008 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding revisions to the ADA regulations, the Department received numerous comments urging it to establish such provisions.

In light of these developments, this advance notice presents for public review and comment a series of questions seeking comments and suggestions regarding what a NPRM issued by the Department on Web accessibility should contain.

We fully support an ADA-friendly web experience — though we find it sad that disability-friendly websites need to be mandated by law and enforced by the DOJ instead of just organically happening as a matter of clear, human, conscience — and we wonder how this would be enforced.

Would all websites be required to be compatible, or only those that are business related, or education-centric, or only those sites supported by federal funds?

We look forward to the long arm of the Department of Justice finally reaching out into the etherweb to enforce compliance in a communication experience that should’ve been handled long ago.

3 Comments

    1. I don’t think a lot of people really know what “accessible” really means when it comes to the handicapped.

      In our building, our apartment is supposed to be the one that is “wheelchair accessible” — but the front and back building entrances are stepped. No ramp.

      Our apartment has stairs going up and down. No ramp. There’s a thick, marble, threshold in the bathroom. The bathroom doesn’t have any rails installed around the toilet or shower/tub.

      However… our apartment does have big hallways, large door openings and a bigger stove — and I guess in the developer’s mind, that means “handicapped ready.”