Revisions to the ADA Title II Act

Updated 6/10/2024

On April 24, 2024, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published revisions to the ADA Title II act. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal law that prohibits state and local governments (such as public school districts, public colleges and universities, and public libraries) from discriminating against persons with disabilities.

While the previous version of the act stated that public institutions need to have accessible websites and apps, it was not always clear what that meant. The revision gives official guidance on what digital accessibility actually means: meeting WCAG 2.1 AA standards. 

The World Wide Web consortium (W3C) has been publishing web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) since 1999. For the last few years, WCAG version 2.1, published in 2018, had been informally adopted as the gold standard for web accessibility.

Among other recent legal cases, the 2017 lawsuit Payan v LACCD set a legal precedent in this area. The lawsuit stated that Blind students experienced accessibility barriers in all aspects of their education: school websites, course materials, web-based learning platforms, library resources, and more. A federal judge ruled in 2019 that the LACCD must make their resources accessible as defined by the WCAG 2.1 AA standards. 

The new revisions to ADA Title II have now made this the official standard. 

The ADA has published a fact sheet to help understand this ruling, especially for those without a legal background. The full ruling is published in the federal register

The implications of this ruling are immense: all public colleges and universities must ensure that their course materials, learning management systems, websites, and web apps meet WCAG 2.1 AA standards, and most of us need to do this by April 24, 2026. 

While private colleges and universities are exempt from the new ruling, many believe that it is only a matter of time before Section 504 or other laws that apply to private institutions will also be updated to reflect the WCAG 2.1 AA standards as well. 

NWHeat is committed to providing information resources to help colleges and universities meet their accessibility requirements. We had already created this Knowledge Base as a general reference for digital accessibility. As we learn more about the ruling, and how institutions are responding to the ruling, we will update this posting and add relevant content to the Knowledge Base. New content specifically relating to the new ruling will be tagged with “Title II Ruling” for easier discovery. 

NWHeat also hosts regular webinars. We have already hosted one webinar in May 2024 that began exploring what the Title II update means to colleges and universities. We plan to host several more in our 2024-25 webinar series, with the intent of having a space to share our understanding as it evolves over the next couple of years.