Digital Accessibility, the ADA, and You!

Digital Accessibility, the ADA, and You!

In the photo above, President George Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990. Reverend Harold Wilkie, a disability rights advocate, and Sandra Parrino of the National Council on Disability stand behind. Evan Kemp, Jr., chairman of the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (1964 UVA Law alumnus), sits on the President's right; Justin Dart Jr. sits on his left, wearing a blue and white "ADA" button.

Accessibility Is Everyone's Responsibility

ADA & Digital Accessibility: A New Rule Has Been Added Clearly Stating How the ADA Applies to Digital Assets

As of April 2024, a new rule has been added to the ADA clarifying the requirement for accessible digital assets and reiterates the necessity of action to provide this access. Among other items, this new rule sets forth the minimum technical standards for digital content conformance and provides criteria for limited exceptions. The new rule goes into effect June 2024 and April 24, 2026 is our date for conformance to these standards.

How does this new rule affect UVA?

  • Although the ADA has always required effective communication, this new rule sets a specific minimum technical standard to meet existing obligations under Title II of the ADA for web and mobile app accessibility. (UVA is considered a Title II institution under the ADA)
  • The rule applies to web services, content, digital assets, and mobile apps that we provide or make available.
  • “Web content” is defined as the information and experiences available on the web, like text, images, sound, videos, and documents. 
  • Provides for limited exceptions. Simply having content within Canvas, behind NetBadge, or other password protected sites does not automatically qualify for an exception.
  • Our deadline for compliance is April 24, 2026 per the ADA.
  • All course content is expected to conform to WCAG 2.2 AA standards by start of Fall Semester 2026.

What do I need to do?

If you manage digital assets such as websites or help in obtaining digital tools:

  • UVA's standard for conformance is WCAG 2.2 AA. Evaluate your website, mobile apps and digital content to understand what is in conformance and where more work is needed. Tools such as Ally in Canvas, WAVE, deque Axe, SiteImprove, and others can assist in this process.
  • Remember that automated testing only uncovers 30%-40% of accessibility issues. Manual testing/evaluation is a necessity.
  • If you are working with a web design firm, require WCAG 2.2 AA conformance before you accept work from them. See more about Obtaining Digital Assets
  • Develop a concrete and idealistic strategic plan to address the issues found and how to move forward.
    • Find quick fixes in templates. 
    • Identify public facing and high traffic content.
    • Focus first on essential functions and then plan for new, modified and legacy content.
  • Monitor the plan monthly.