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Why Your Website Needs to Be Accessible: Insights and Compliance Tips

Ever felt like the DOJ was a mysterious entity you hoped to never encounter? Well, it’s time to rethink that, especially if you own a business with a website. Here’s why you should care about website accessibility and what the recent DOJ ruling means for you.

Who is the DOJ and Why Should You Care?

The Department of Justice (DOJ) enforces laws and ensures justice across the US. They’re the folks who tackle everything from organized crime to consumer protection. But here’s the kicker: they’re also in charge of civil rights enforcement, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). And guess what? Your website is now under their scrutiny. As of April 24, 2024, the DOJ updated its regulation for Title II of the ADA to include specific requirements for web content and mobile applications accessibility.

The ADA and Your Digital Space

When the ADA was enacted in 1990, websites weren’t even a thing. But fast forward to 2024, and our lives are digital. The ADA’s goal is to prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all public areas, including the digital space. So, if you’re doing business with any government entity, your website needs to be accessible.

Who does this Affect?

The DOJ ruling is specifically aimed at businesses that receive money from the federal or state governments and those that receive money from those that receive money from the federal or state governments. The rule applies to web content that a state or local government provides or makes available. This includes when a state or local government has an arrangement with someone else who provides or makes available web content for them. So, when you think about it, this is most businesses.  

What Does an Accessible Website Look Like?

The DOJ looks to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA level for compliance. This means your website should be:

  • Perceivable: Can everyone see and hear the content?
  • Operable: Can everyone navigate and interact with it?
  • Understandable: Is the content clear and easy to comprehend?
  • Robust: Does it work across different devices and assistive technologies?

There is a LOT of “stuff” covered in those bullets, but that is the topic of another blog. The good news though is that you don’t have to go for AAA. Just think of it as aiming for a solid B grade—good enough to pass muster without being too onerous.

Compliance Timeline

Depending on the size of your audience, you have up to two years to comply. For websites representing state and local governments in a county or city with a total population of 50,000 or more, these websites must comply with the ruling by April 24, 2026. Populations of 49,999 or fewer are given a bit more time and must comply by April 24, 2027.  

But don’t wait! Remediating an existing site can be a headache, and very expensive. Sometimes, to ensure compliance from the get-go, it’s easier to rebuild from scratch.

Why Bother?

  1. Avoid Legal Trouble: Opportunistic attorneys are out there looking for non-compliant sites to sue. Even if you win, the legal hassle isn’t worth it.
  2. Be Inclusive: 20% of the population has some form of disability. Why alienate potential customers?
  3. SEO and Best Practices: Accessibility often aligns with SEO best practices, improving your site’s searchability and overall performance.

Next Steps

Curious if your site meets the new standards? Head over to Spring Insight’s DOJ Compliance Quiz and find out. And hey, while you’re at it, subscribe to our channel for more insightful content.

Now, let’s dive into the full discussion in our video where we break down these points in more detail:

Watch the video below!

Your Website – What the DOJ Cares About