Readout of Justice Department Leadership’s Meeting with Civil Rights Groups Ahead of 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington
Remarks as Delivered
Thank you, Neera. I am thrilled to be with you to announce that the Justice Department has sent to the Federal Register for publication a notice of proposed rulemaking under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The issuance of this proposed rule concerning web and mobile app accessibility is a momentous occasion. It is hard to overstate the importance of this rulemaking to the tens of millions of people with disabilities in this country, and it is the result of years of work and collaboration by the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division and others at the Justice Department.
As so many services have gone online in recent years, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, it is now more important than ever to ensure that there are clear standards for what state and local governments must do to make their online programs, services and activities accessible to people with disabilities.
This issue affects the ability of disabled people to access court websites, public library services, information about police services, public school materials, voter registration information, public hospital services, parking apps, public transit schedules, public benefits information and so much more.
People with disabilities navigate the web in a variety of ways. For example:
It is important that websites and mobile apps be designed accessibly so that people with disabilities have equal opportunity to access public programs, services and activities.
For too many years, we have heard from both the disability community and regulated entities a desire to have more clarity about what standards apply.
This proposed rule would propose a specific technical standard that state and local governments would have to follow to meet their existing obligations under Title II of the ADA for web and mobile app accessibility.
It would help people with disabilities know what their rights are, and it would also help state and local governments understand what they have to do to comply with the ADA and ensure that their services are accessible to people with disabilities.
We are thrilled to see this rulemaking moving forward. It is truly past time that we make it possible:
It is fitting that this proposed rule is being issued as we mark the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is a critically important law that has transformed the lives of people with disabilities and opened the doors of society in so many ways.
When President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA, he famously said “Let the shameful walls of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”
Thirty-three years after the ADA’s passage, many barriers to the full participation and inclusion of people with disabilities still remain.
And in some cases, new barriers have been erected. For example, the dramatic shifts toward online services have too often left disabled people behind.
It does not need to be that way.
As we move forward, the Justice Department is eager to hear from the public and get input from stakeholders. The proposed rule will soon be available for review on the Federal Register’s website at www.federalregister.gov. We will also post a fact sheet that provides information about the proposed rule on www.ada.gov. The department welcomes comments once the proposed rule is published. The comment period will be open for 60 days from the date the proposed rule is published. Public comments can be submitted on www.regulations.gov.
The Department of Justice expects to issue a final rule that will lay out clear standards for public entities to comply with the ADA.
And we will continue to use every tool that we have, including our enforcement authority, to ensure that people with disabilities are not treated like second class citizens when it comes to online services.