Web Content Exceptions Under New Title II Rule

The new Title II web accessibility rule under the ADA includes every important exceptions that public entities must know before taking inventory. Below is an outline that explains each of the five content exceptions to WCAG 2.1 AA conformance in plain English.

Exceptions to Web Rule

Below is a summary of the content exceptions to the new Title II web accessibility rule recently published by the Department of Justice in April 2024. The rule generally requires WCAG 2.1 AA conformance, but there are five exceptions for specific kinds of content.

Archived Web Content

Archived content qualifies as an exception if all of the four points listed below are met:

  • Creation Date: The content was created before the compliance deadline or reproduces materials like audio tapes or CDs from before this date.
  • Purpose: Used solely for reference, research, or record-keeping.
  • Storage: Located specifically in an archived section.
  • Updates: Has not been modified since being archived.

Pre-existing Electronic Documents

Traditional electronic documents such as word processing files, presentations, PDFs, or spreadsheets are exempt if they were available on a website or app before the compliance deadline.

Content Posted by Independent Third Parties

Content that a third party independently uploads to a platform or website is not under the control of the public entity, thus exempt. For example, if a member of the community posts a message on a message board or adds a comment to a Facebook page.

Individualized Password-Protected Documents

Another exception is for documents that are specific to one person, property, or account that are password protected and are in one of the formats listed. Here there are three separate conditions that must be met:

  • The document is either a word processing document, PDF, presentation, or spreadsheet.
  • The document is for an individual, property, or account.
  • The document is password protected.

An example of such a document is an old water bill.

Preexisting Social Media Posts

Social media posts created before the compliance deadline are exempt. This highlights the importance of the creation date in determining eligibility for an exception.

Compliance Deadlines

An important detail for these exceptions is that content only qualifies for an exception before the respective deadlines for entities. The compliance dates are as follows:

  • Public entities of populations of less than 50,000 have 3 years
  • Special district governments have 3 years
  • Public entities of populations of 50,000 or more have 2 years

Training

Even though there is time before the compliance deadline, state and local governments should start training their digital teams on how to create and post accessible content. The roles directly impacted by web content include:

  • Social media managers
  • Document creators
  • Blog post writers

The WCAG Course provides full WCAG 2.1 AA training on demand. You can sign up and access this course now at WCAGCourse.com

Conclusion

There are five key exceptions where content does not have to be WCAG 2.1 AA conformant. It is essential for public entities working towards compliance to know about these exceptions so they can conserve their budget and focus on their websites, apps, and other content that does not qualify for an exception.

Resources

Read about the exceptions on the official ADA.gov Fact Sheet for the new Title II rule.

To learn the details behind the new rule, read the official web rule titled, “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities” in the Federal Register.

Do you need help with Title II digital accessibility compliance? Visit Accessible.org to learn more about our done-for-you approach to website accessibility services.

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