CLPHA and Reno & Cavanaugh PLLC submitted comments to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities (“Web Accessibility NPRM”). The proposed rulemaking pertains to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability and is aimed at establishing specific requirements for making web services accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
While we applaud DOJ’s commitment to providing public entities greater clarity in exactly how to meet their obligations, we have concerns about the financial burden that the Web Accessibility NPRM will place on PHAs. Given the historical and continued underfunding of PHAs across the country, it is likely cost prohibitive for PHAs to procure vendors to figure out the costs required for accessibility features in the first place.
We are further concerned that this rulemaking prioritizes enforcement without providing the necessary tools, guidance, and resources to PHAs to comply with these mandates. PHAs have had to make the difficult choice to remove things such as board reports, annual plans, flyers, and press releases because compliance with accessibility requirements was cost and time-prohibitive.
We recommend that DOJ work with PHAs to develop safe harbors that would allow PHAs to determine what information and documents are “vital” that require website accessibility compliance while permitting PHAs to make non-vital information available on websites without the added cost and burden of accessibility compliance.
October 23rd, 2023