The July 20, 2017 White House release of the Trump Administration’s updated Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions is the first clear indication of a shift by the Department of Justice on priorities under ADA Title II and III. The Obama Administration’s Fall 2016 Agenda had included proposed rules regarding non-discrimination in the accessibility of Web information in State and Local government services (ADA Title II), as the next step in addressing web accessibility. There were also proposed rules on movie captioning and audio description (which were at the final rule stage), implementation of the 2008 ADA amendments and coordination with Section 504. These are among the 391 active actions by federal agencies that the Trump Administration has reclassified as “long-term” or “inactive”, thus “allowing for further careful review.” Other DOJ ADA-related regulations moved to the “inactive” list include web accessibility for public accommodations (ADA Title III), next generation 9-1-1 and accessibility of medical equipment and furniture. The full Unified Agenda with the list of 2017 Inactive Actions is available here.
This updated agenda confirms our prediction that the Trump Administration would not be pushing out regulations on web accessibility any time soon, or any other rule that was perceived to impose additional costs on businesses. It is too soon to determine whether this change will affect DOJ’s enforcement priorities or approach for complaints involving communication issues. The immediate impact is that public and private entities struggling with private web accessibility lawsuits, or trying to proactively comply, will have to proceed without the likelihood of federal standards for the foreseeable future.