Advocacy quick hits: Proposed regs on website accessibility


The U.S. Department of Justice last month issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on website accessibility for public entities, including public colleges and universities.

The new regulations seek to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to government services that are increasingly provided and administered online through websites and mobile applications.

Community colleges will be required to adhere to new technical standards — the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines — for their websites and mobile applications in order to stay in compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disability Act.

Colleges should expect the impact of these new regulations to be broad and for these changes to be a significant undertaking. While the NPRM does note some content exceptions, including third-party web content and postsecondary course content that is on a secured website, colleges will still be required to make course content accessible if a student with a relevant disability is enrolled in the class.

The NPRM estimates that within five years, 90% of classes at community colleges will be required to make these changes to course content, citing enrollment trends for individuals with vision, hearing, dexterity or cognitive disabilities. The timeline for coming into compliance will be staggered, but most community colleges will have three years to implement the new regulations for non-exempt content.

Comments are due on October 3. The American Association of Community Colleges is eager to hear perspectives and feedback from community college administrators who work on website accessibility issues.

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About the Author

Kathryn Gimborys
Kathryn Gimborys is a government relations manager at the American Association of Community Colleges.
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