The Department of Justice (DOJ) is continuing to pressure businesses to make their websites accessible even while it is drafting proposed regulations for websites that are supposedly coming out this June. The latest business targeted by DOJ is the National Museum of Crime and Punishment, which entered into a settlement agreement that was announced on Tuesday, January 13, 2015.
The settlement agreement requires the Museum to redesign its website to conform to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG), Level AA. The DOJ has yet to adopt WCAG Level AA (or any other set of guidelines) as the legal standard for website accessibility in any of its regulations, but they are becoming the de facto standard. As we have previously reported, the DOJ has specified WCAG Level AA as the access standard in all of its recent website accessibility agreements, including those with tax return preparation company H&R Block and online grocer Peapod.
WCAG Level AA requires, among many other things, that websites provide text alternatives for all non-text content; captioning and audio descriptions for all pre-recorded and live video and audio media; and an adaptable layout with a minimum contrast and resizable text. Further, the website must provide multiple ways to access any individual page, and all pages must be organized and easily navigable by a screen reader. The settlement does not specify whether the Museum’s mobile site, if it exists, would also have to conform to the guidelines.
The settlement agreement gives the Museum only 120 days to make its website conform to WCAG Level AA. This is a very short timeframe considering that the process always requires an initial audit, remediation, and retesting to ensure compliance. On a more positive note, the Museum did not have to pay any civil penalties.
In addition to website remediation, the Museum will also have to provide audio descriptions of tours and exhibits as well as resources in braille and large print for individuals who are blind or who have low vision. It must also make modifications to the museum itself to remove physical access barriers.