Further absurdity in #a11y lawmaking

Something very disturbing jumped out at me in this article on the current status (as at December 2015) of the Section 508 refresh:

Currently, the [Department of Justice] is reviewing the public comments received in response to the 2010 [Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking] on questions including what standards should be adopted for website accessibility and whether coverage limitations should be used for certain entities such as small businesses.

The citation for this information was the DoJ’s autumn 2015 statement of regulatory priorities:

The Department, in its 2010 ANPRM on web site accessibility, indicated that it was considering amending its regulations implementing titles II and III of the ADA to require web site accessibility and it sought public comment regarding what standards, if any, it should adopt for web site accessibility, whether the Department should adopt coverage limitations for certain entities, and what resources and services are available to make existing web sites accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Department also solicited comments on the costs of making web sites accessible and on the existence of any other effective and reasonably feasible alternatives to making web sites accessible. The Department received approximately 440 public comments and is in the process of reviewing these comments. The Department will be publishing separate NPRMs addressing web site accessibility pursuant to titles II and III of the ADA. The Department expects to publish the title II NPRM early in fiscal year 2016.

The notion that any organisation, public or private, would take six years to get around to reading a document simply beggars belief.

Nor can six year old survey responses about the state of the web in 2010 hold much insight for tomorrow’s policies.

Since 2006, the accessibility community, and the web professionals impacted by Section 508, have been given nothing but excuses. With the DOJ’s declaration that the consultation responses they requested six years ago were not good enough to be read until now, their contempt for those communities is no longer in question.

About the author

Heather Burns is a digital law specialist in Glasgow, Scotland. She researches, writes, publishes, consults, and speaks extensively on internet laws and policies which affect the crafts of web design and development. She has been designing and developing web sites since 1997 and has been a professional web site designer since 2007. She holds a postgraduate certification in internet law and policy from the University of Strathclyde. Learn about hiring Heather to write, speak, or consult.