US Federal Laws
Federal standards and laws require many industries and sectors to make their digital content accessible. Even where there are no specific laws for digital accessibility, many circuit courts and states apply other discrimination laws to public websites.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities by state and local governments. This commonly includes websites for those entities as well, but does not explicitly define or specify web accessibility.
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation against those with disabilities in any state in the US. The ADA uses intentionally broad language to describe what business offerings must be accessible so it covers just about anything a company may provide.
No specific standards, but courts offer opinions
Many jurisdictions have held that websites should be considered services offered by the organization that owns them. In those jurisdictions, the websites belonging to places of public accommodation must be accessible under the ADA Title III, even though digital offerings are not specifically mentioned. Civil rights laws and damages pertaining to places of public accommodation and the services they offer often also apply to websites.
Vague wording offers flexibility
According to the Department of Justice, the wording is left intentionally vague to allow for greater flexibility. There are no specific guidelines listing exactly what accessibility should look like because accessibility will look different for every website depending on its design. However, many federal courts have referred to the international standard, WCAG, as the guidelines by which to determine and measure accessibility.
21st Century IDEA Act
This was signed into law on December 20, 2018, and requires all federal government agencies to have modern, accessible websites. These websites must also include self-service, fillable forms so that citizens have digital alternatives to physical paper forms of every federal document. The deadline for these updates was December 20, 2019.