Educause Review Resource: Digital Accessibility Law & Regulation

PALNI’s Instructional Technology groups have begun work in new topic areas, one being accessibility. A recent report will prove to be beneficial to this work. Details are below:

In 2018, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) were released as the first revision of WCAG since 2.0 in December of 2008.  Educause’s Policy Office provided an overview of what occured in 2018 in the areas of accessibility law and regulation.

Quoting key takeaways from Educause Review’s Policy Spotlight:

  • The US Department of Justice (DOJ) essentially reconfirmed its intention to avoid issuing digital accessibility regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • DOJ’s unwillingness to set regulatory standards for digital accessibility has not changed its long-standing position, however, that the ADA covers digital accessibility.
  • In the absence of regulatory standards, various federal courts are responding to digital accessibility lawsuits in different and sometimes contradictory ways. They also continue to leave key questions unanswered – questions that one might expect regulations to cover.
  • DOJ’s counterpart for accessibility compliance in the education space, the US Department of Education (ED) Office of Civil Rights (OCR), struggled with compliance complaints against institutions related to the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which establishes accessibility requirements for any educational institution receiving federal funds.
  • The lack of both regulatory standards and a clear legal consensus in some areas continues to hamper compliance, but relative consistency on some points provides helpful markers.

Additional recommendations for next steps are offered within the linked documents.