The U.S. Department of Justice has sent its proposed rule on web accessibility for state and local government entities to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. This is one of the final steps an agency must take before publishing a proposed regulation.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken one of the last required steps before it may publicly issue its proposed regulation that would update web accessibility rules for state and local government entities under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. DOJ initially announced its intent to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the issue in 2022.Footnote1
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)—a federal office that is part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—received the proposed rule for review on March 6. OIRA is responsible for reviewing all regulations determined as "significant" prior to publication.Footnote2 The review process is designed to comply with federal regulatory principles, ensure the President's policies are reflected in agency rules, and ensure that agencies consider the consequences of rules, including costs and benefits, before proceeding publicly.
OIRA must generally review a draft regulation within ninety days; however, the period may be indefinitely extended by the head of the rulemaking agency. OMB may also extend the review period on a one-time basis for no more than thirty days. That timeline roughly aligns with the date that DOJ has most recently targeted for the release of the NPRM. The latest regulatory agenda update specifies a May 2023 release, with a two-month comment period concluding in July.Footnote3
During an OIRA review, draft regulatory content is still considered "deliberative" and therefore not available for public consumption. That said, the substance of the proposed rules from DOJ remains to be seen. In the absence of any information about the substance of new web accessibility regulations, the higher education community may look to the agency's last regulatory action on this topic to glean potential insights into the priorities of DOJ. That action was a supplemental advance notice of proposed rulemaking (SANPRM) issued by DOJ in 2016. In that SANPRM, the agency sought public feedback on possible web accessibility regulations under Title II.Footnote4
EDUCAUSE will continue monitoring the status of OIRA's review and keep members apprised of updates.
- Kathryn Branson, "Web Accessibility Regulations Are Poised to Be a Focal Point in Spring 2023," EDUCAUSE Review, December 14, 2022. Jump back to footnote 1 in the text.
- Significant regulatory actions are defined in the Executive Order 12866 as those that: (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities; (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in this Executive order. Jump back to footnote 2 in the text.
- U.S. Department of Justice, "Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability: Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Governments," Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions: Short Term Agenda, Reginfo.gov, accessed March 29, 2023. Jump back to footnote 3 in the text.
- Jarret Cummings, "EDUCAUSE Comments: ADA Web Regulations Supplemental Advance Notice," EDUCAUSE Review, October 12, 2016. Jump back to footnote 4 in the text.
Kathryn Branson is a Partner with Ulman Public Policy.
© 2023 Kathryn Branson. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.