DOJ rescinds website accessibility ANPRMs; need for ADA compliance plan remains
Thursday, January 11, 2018
In the last days of December 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it has withdrawn two Advanced Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) pertaining to website accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Title II which was applicable to state and local governments and Title III which related to private businesses open to the public.
As reported in CUNA’s Removing Barriers Blog, the DOJ stated that it is, “evaluating whether promulgating regulations about the accessibility of Web information and services is necessary and appropriate. Such an evaluation will be informed by additional review of data and further analysis. The Department will continue to assess whether specific technical standards are necessary and appropriate to assist covered entities with complying with the ADA.”
These ANPRMs were part of a 2010 proposal by the DOJ concerning how the ADA applies to website accessibility. But since then, the DOJ has only considered revising the regulations and never set specific requirements as a guide for businesses, leaving the titles open to interpretation in the courts. This lack of clarity has left credit unions vulnerable to demand letters and predatory lawsuits claiming their non-compliance with ADA regulations. In the past month, several credit unions in the Carolinas have reported receiving such demand letters.
However, even with the withdrawal of these two ANPRMs the issue of combatting these predatory lawsuits remains.
“While it’s good that the DOJ made the decision to withdraw their ANPRMs on website compliance, it doesn’t mean that this type of predatory litigation will stop,” warned Jeanne Couchois, VP, compliance & regulatory counsel for the Carolinas Credit Union League. “The League in partnership with CUNA and CUNA Mutual Group will continue to encourage the DOJ and Congress to provide clear guidance.”
In the interim, it’s important that credit unions develop a plan to make their website ADA compliant. The plan should include a timeline for compliance in addition to steps for ongoing review of the website to ensure it remains compliant.
“Having an ADA website compliance plan in place provides your credit union with some leverage should you receive an ADA demand letter or be sued,” Couchois added.
The League continues to monitor the ADA demand letters circulating throughout the Carolinas, and is asking any credit unions that receive a demand letter to notify Jeanne Couchois at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-822-8859 ext. 565.
Related News & Resources
So, you got an ADA demand letter? Here’s what to do next (12/21/17)
Jan. 17: Free webinar on digital accessibility, ADA compliance best practices (12/6/17)
CCUL | ADA Website Accessibility Compliance Resources