On 25 September, 2018, the Trump DOJ sent a letter to U.S. Congressman Ted Budd, regarding his June 2018 letter on website accessibility for public accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
U.S. Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd explained that the DOJ first stated that the ADA applies to public accommodations', including banks', websites more than twenty (20) years ago. Boyd noted that "[t]his interpretation is consistent with the ADA's title III requirement that the goods, services, privileges, or privileges, or activities provided by places of public accommodation be equally accessible to people with disabilities."
However, the DOJ has also consistently stated that the absence of a specific regulation does not serve as a basis for noncompliance with a statute's requirements. This means that without "the adoption of specific technical requirements for websites through rulemaking, public accommodations have flexibility in how to comply with the ADA's general requirements of nondiscrimination and effective communication. Accordingly, noncompliance with a voluntarily technical standard… does not necessarily indicate noncompliance with the ADA."
Boyd then passed the figurative ball back to Congress and encouraged the legislator to use the lawmaking process to provide great clarity about the ADA's website and mobile application requirements.
So what does this all mean for your bank? First of all, it's important to note that the DoJ does grant flexibility in determining how to comply with the ADA’s requirements.
You have no obligation to follow web accessibility guidelines. But you do have an obligation to provide an accessible website. Almost any accessibility consultant will acknowledge that guidelines on website accessibility are flawed; there is no perfect description of web accessibility. However, few would argue that the guidelines are too strict. Usually, the flaws with guidelines are failures to address important issues.
The lack of specificity means that the determination of an accessible website is not through compliance with a set of rules or regulations. Instead, the accessibility of individual sites is being arbitrated in the courts.
During this webinar, we will examine a range of unresolved legal issues, and create a "best practices" action plan for your bank to implement in order to combat open questions and conflicting interpretations of the ADA.
Learn more about Carly Souther webinar ADA Website Compliance