ADA Title II: Urgent digital accessibility requirements for US state and local governments and their third-party vendors

ADA Title II: Urgent digital accessibility requirements for US state and local governments and their third-party vendors

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title II now requires all state and local governments, along with their third-party contractors and software vendors, to comply with WCAG 2.1 A/AA standards.

This new rule, published in the Federal Register by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on April 24, 2024, mandates that software and IT services be accessible to people with disabilities. Depending on the size of the population served, organizations have two or three years to comply.

That’s not much time.

Particularly when vital public services provided by state and local governments are almost always underfunded. Fortunately, the emergence of third-party vendors that can offer digital services to these public entities has been a blessing in that application and IT solution providers working for these organizations have the ability to move and respond quickly to changing needs.

The positive synergy of this relationship between state and local governments and their third-party vendors will be tested, however, by the timeline for these new ADA Title II requirements. The urgency is real.

In this article, we’ll provide you with the information you need to begin building your roadmap to compliance today.

Brief overview of the new ADA Title II requirements

The new ADA Title II regulations mandate that all US state and local government websites and mobile applications meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 at Level A and AA. These guidelines, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), set the international standard for making digital content accessible to people with disabilities.

This law ensures that public services provided through digital platforms are usable by everyone, including individuals with visual, auditory, motor, speech, and cognitive disabilities. Compliance with these standards is crucial for providing equitable access to essential services such as paying taxes, accessing public records, and participating in community events. Organizations must achieve full compliance within two to three years, emphasizing the need for immediate action.

Who must comply with the new ADA Title II requirements

State and local Governments in the US

The new requirements apply to all state and local government entities across the United States. By definition, “State” means each of the 50 US states, as well as the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Local government applies to county, city, town, and municipal governments.

The DOJ specifies that this also includes a wide range of public bodies such as municipal offices, county administrations, state agencies, public schools, libraries, and museums. These entities must ensure that their websites, mobile applications, and other digital services are accessible to people with disabilities.

Third-party contractors and software vendors

In addition to state and local governments, the new regulations extend to third-party contractors and software vendors providing digital services to these public entities. Any company that develops, manages, or supports digital platforms used by state and local governments must comply with WCAG 2.1 A/AA standards within the same timelines.

These third-party vendors play a critical role in ensuring that the digital services offered by government entities are accessible. They, too, must prioritize accessibility in their design, development, and maintenance processes to meet the new ADA Title II requirements.

Specific implications for third-party vendors

According to the DOJ Fact Sheet, any company supplying digital solutions used by state and local governments must ensure their products are accessible and compliant with WCAG 2.1 A/AA standards. Some examples include:

  • Parking payment apps
    • Companies that develop and maintain parking payment applications, which municipalities rely on for managing parking fees and fines, must ensure these apps are accessible. This includes ensuring that all features, from payment processing to receipt generation, are usable by individuals with disabilities.
  • Website template providers
    • Vendors that provide customizable website templates and content management systems (CMS) for towns and cities are required to make their platforms fully accessible. This ensures that all public-facing web pages created using these templates meet accessibility standards.
  • Payment processors
    • Companies that process online payments for municipal services, including utilities, taxes, and permits, must ensure their systems are accessible. This includes making sure that payment forms, navigation, and transaction confirmations are usable by individuals with disabilities.
  • Event ticketing services
    • Third-party vendors offering online ticketing solutions for public events, such as concerts, theater performances, and sporting events, must ensure that their platforms are accessible. This includes ticket selection, purchasing, and electronic ticket delivery.
  • Educational technology providers
    • Companies providing learning management systems (LMS), online course platforms, and other educational technologies to public schools and universities must ensure their services are accessible to all students, including those with disabilities.
  • Health service platforms
    • Vendors supplying digital health services to public health departments, including appointment scheduling systems, patient portals, and telehealth platforms, must ensure accessibility to comply with the new regulations.
  • Public service applications
    • Applications used for accessing various public services, such as permit applications, license renewals, and public record requests, must be compliant. Vendors providing these solutions need to ensure that every step of the user interaction is accessible.

The urgency of compliance for third-party vendors

Third-party vendors potentially only have two years to conform to the new standards. Accordingly, launching compliance efforts immediately is critical. Failure to comply in time can result in legal repercussions and a loss of business from state and local governments that now require WCAG-compliant solutions.

Time is particularly of the essence because it often takes companies many months—and in some cases several years—to build a sustainable accessibility program and remediate existing technical debt.

As a third-party vendor providing digital services to state and local governments, you should do the following to ensure you can meet the new Title II requirements before the deadline:

  • Conduct comprehensive accessibility audits: Assess current products and services to find and fix accessibility issues.
  • Train all relevant teams: Ensure your teams are able to remediate and “shift left,” enabling accessibility throughout the entire life cycle so that operational costs are as effective as possible.
  • Embed accessibility in design and development: Make WCAG 2.1 A/AA a requirement in your design and development process for the most cost-efficient and sustainable solution. As a best practice, work with people with disabilities to ensure you design experiences with and for them.
  • Partner with accessibility experts: Collaborate with accessibility professionals who can provide guidance, training, and support as you build your WCAG muscles.
  • Monitor and maintain accessibility: Continuously monitor digital services for accessibility and make necessary updates to stay compliant with evolving standards.

By taking these proactive steps, you’ll ensure compliance with ADA Title II and enhance the usability and inclusivity of your digital services, ultimately benefiting a broader audience—and your business. There is significant ROI in WCAG compliance that goes well beyond mitigating legal risk. By responding quickly to the urgency and getting ahead of the new requirements, you position your organization as a leader in the field.

An overview of required accessible services

The new law covers a wide array of digital services. While not exhaustive, this list provides a solid overview of online services that must meet the new accessibility standards.

  • Online or mobile payments
    • Citations and fines: Paying traffic tickets, parking fines, or other municipal penalties.
    • Taxes: Submitting local property taxes, income taxes, or business taxes.
    • Utilities: Paying for water, electricity, gas, and other utility services.
    • Licenses and permits: Paying for business licenses, building permits, and other regulatory fees.
    • Parking: Paying for metered parking or purchasing parking permits.
  • Online purchasing of tickets
    • Lottery tickets: View winning numbers, updates on jackpot amounts, check tickets for winning status, and more.
    • Sporting events: Buying tickets for local sporting events, school games, or community sports leagues.
    • Cultural events: Purchasing tickets for concerts, theater performances, and other cultural events hosted by public entities.
    • Public transportation: Buying tickets or passes for buses, trains, and other public transit systems.
  • Access to public records
    • Document requests: Requesting copies of public records such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, and property deeds.
    • Meeting agendas and minutes: Accessing information about city council meetings, school board meetings, and other public gatherings.
  • Educational services
    • School portals: Accessing student information systems for grades, attendance, and school announcements.
    • Online learning platforms: Participating in virtual classes, accessing educational materials, and submitting assignments.
    • Library services: Accessing digital catalogs, borrowing e-books, and using other online library resources.
    • Museum services: Accessing online exhibits, ticket purchasing, event registration, and educational resources.
  • Public health and safety information
    • Emergency alerts: Receiving notifications about weather emergencies, public safety threats, and other urgent information.
    • Health services: Scheduling appointments, accessing medical records, and finding information about local health services.
  • Community engagement and participation
    • Surveys and feedback: Participating in community surveys, providing feedback on public projects, and submitting complaints or suggestions.
    • Volunteer opportunities: Signing up for community service and volunteer programs.
  • Employment services
    • Job applications: Applying for jobs with state or local governments.
    • Training programs available to the public: Accessing job training and professional development resources.
  • Recreational services
    • Facility reservations: Booking community centers, sports facilities, and public parks for events or activities.
    • Program registration: Signing up for recreational programs, classes, and workshops.
  • Legal and judicial services
    • Court services: Accessing court records, paying court fees, and scheduling court appointments.
    • Legal aid: Finding information about legal aid services and resources for low-income residents.

Getting ADA compliant using Deque

Deque offers a comprehensive suite of tools and services designed to help organizations achieve ADA compliance and create accessible digital experiences. Our solutions are tailored to meet the needs of both state and local governments and their third-party vendors, ensuring that all digital services are inclusive and meet the new ADA Title II requirements.

Accessibility audits

Deque’s thorough accessibility audits provide a detailed assessment of your digital assets to identify and remediate accessibility issues. These audits cover websites, mobile applications, and other digital platforms, offering a clear roadmap to compliance with WCAG 2.1 A/AA standards. Our expert auditors use advanced tools and methodologies to pinpoint barriers and provide actionable recommendations for improvement.

Consulting services

Deque’s team of experienced accessibility professionals works closely with your organization to develop and implement effective accessibility strategies specific to your unique needs and circumstances. We provide hands-on assistance, from initial assessments to ongoing support, ensuring your digital services remain compliant and accessible. Our team of Strategy Consultants has a collective 58 years of experience, helping run and improve some of the world’s largest digital accessibility programs.

Educational initiatives

Deque offers a range of educational initiatives to keep your team informed and compliant with the latest accessibility standards and best practices. Our webinars, workshops, and training sessions are designed to build your team’s knowledge and skills in digital accessibility. These initiatives cover a wide array of topics, including WCAG compliance, accessible design and development, and the latest trends in digital accessibility.

Why choose Deque?

  • Industry leadership. Deque has been recognized by the Forrester Wave™ as “the best fit for organizations committed to embedding accessibility and wanting a vendor with strong services and great tools.”
  • Proven track record: Deque has a long history of helping government entities achieve and maintain compliance with accessibility standards. Our solutions are trusted by numerous public sector organizations to deliver accessible digital services.
  • Comprehensive tools: Our suite of tools (including axe DevTools and axe Auditor) supports designers, developers, and testers in creating and maintaining accessible digital content. These tools are widely recognized for their effectiveness and ease of use.
  • Expertise and innovation: Deque is at the forefront of accessibility innovation, continually enhancing our tools and services to meet evolving standards. Our commitment to the accessibility community and our contributions to open-source projects underscore our dedication to driving positive change.
  • Customized support: Our services are customized to address your specific challenges and goals, ensuring that you receive the support you need at every step of your accessibility journey.

By partnering with Deque, state and local governments and their third-party vendors can confidently navigate the new ADA Title II requirements and create more inclusive digital experiences for all users.

There’s no better moment than now to get on the path to compliance!

To learn more about how Deque can help your organization achieve ADA compliance, contact us for a free initial consultation to assess your current compliance status.

Photo of Glenda Sims

About Glenda Sims

Glenda Sims is the Chief Information Accessibility Officer at Deque, where she shares her expertise and passion for the open web with government organizations, educational institutions, and companies ranging in size from small businesses to large enterprise organizations. Glenda is an advisor and co-founder of AIR-University (Accessibility Internet Rally) and AccessU. She serves as an accessibility consultant, judge, and trainer for Knowbility, an organization whose mission is to support the independence of people with disabilities by promoting the availability of barrier-free IT. In 2010 Glenda co-authored the book InterACT with Web Standards: A holistic approach to Web Design.
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Comments 2 responses

  1. Could you provide clarification about who exactly is legally responsible, to be quite clear about that? According to all the information I have seen to date, including on, Title II applies to state and local governments; it does NOT apply, directly, to “their third-party contractors and software vendors”. You are right in saying that web developers selling to government will have to implement accessibility, but Title II applies specifically to state and local governments. They then have the responsibility to ensure that their web contractors comply with the requirements of the regulation, most likely by putting specific clauses in the contract to require WCAG compliance.

    This is an important distinction, for many reasons. For instance, if a governmental body is sued over their website content, they will not be able to deny responsibility by saying “we contracted this to such-and-such web agency, sue them!” The agency is not liable under Title II, only the governmental body. Again, a disabled person will presumably not be able to sue a web developer over non-compliant content they have produced. They will have to complain to the government agency that is displaying it. (Nor will the governmental body be able to sue the developer for non-compliant content, if it was not in the contract.)

    Also, the state or local government will not be able to accept web developer content, assuming responsibility rests with the developer. It will be very important for them to have it tested by qualified testers, to be sure their own legal compliance. I expect many governmental administrators and executives won’t realise that at first!

  2. From Glenda:
    Great questions, Guy, and here are the answers:
    Who exactly is legally responsible for conformance with ADA Title II?
    * Direct: US state and local governments entities
    * Indirect: 3rd party vendors with contractual agreements to provide accessible software to US state and local government entities.

    Many predict that this final rule that added WCAG 2.1 A/AA as the standard to measure digital accessibility to ADA Title II is the precursor for WCAG being added to ADA Title III as well. To quote Seyfarth Shaw, “this Final Rule is important because it will likely provide the roadmap for future DOJ regulations for public accommodations websites and mobile apps under Title III of the ADA”

    I do worry that some US state/local gov entities will not realize their legal responsibility for digital accessibility for online services provided by 3rd party IT vendors. But the moment these entities do realize it, the 3rd party vendors that are accessible will gain business, while those who are inaccessible will lose and could face legal pressure if their contracts required WCAG compliance.

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