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Web and Application Accessibility for Portland

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This page contains resources related to Web and Application accessibility at the city of Portland, Oregon.
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What is happening?

On April 24, 2024, the Federal Register published the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) final rule updating its regulations for Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The final rule has specific requirements about how to ensure that web content and mobile applications (apps) are accessible to people with disabilities. The DOJ has provided a Fact Sheet summarizing the new rule. The city of Portland has until April 24, 2026 to get into compliance with the new rule.

The Office of Equity and Humans Rights is partnering with the Bureau of Technology Services to help manage this project. We have developed a survey asking for an inventory of potentially inaccessible electronic properties: https://forms.office.com/g/kJkSRwR5xR

Note: this survey is limited to those with a portlandoregon.gov email address per BTS constraints. If you are a City employee who has been instructed to take this survey and do not have access, contact the Disability Division.

What is the technical standard for compliance?

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version 2.1, Level AA is the technical standard for state and local governments’ web content and mobile apps. WCAG, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, is a set of guidelines that say what is needed for web accessibility. WCAG is developed by the World Wide Web Consortium. A technical standard says specifically what is required for something to be accessible.

What is covered by the rule?

The rule applies to web content and mobile apps that a state or local government makes available to the public or uses to offer services, programs, and activities to the public. “Web content” is defined as the information and experiences available on the web, like text, images, sound, videos, forms, portals, and documents. This includes when a state or local government has an arrangement with someone else who provides or makes available web content for them.

Portland would need to comply with this rule unless they could demonstrate that doing so would result in fundamental alteration of their activities, programs, or services, or if compliance would result in undue financial or administrative burdens. In determining whether an action would result in undue financial and administrative burdens, all a public entity's resources available for use in the funding and operation of the service, program, or activity should be considered. 

What is not covered by the rule?

The rule contains five exceptions. In most instances, content meeting one of the exceptions would not need to be automatically made accessible.

The five exceptions are (more details on the exceptions are covered in the Fact Sheet):

  • Archived web content
  • Preexisting conventional electronic documents that are not used or updated after the rule goes into effect
  • Content posted by a third party where the third party is not posting due to contractual, licensing, or other arrangements with a public entity
  • Individualized documents that are password protected
  • Preexisting social media posts made the the city

Under ADA rules, state and local governments have to provide effective communication and make reasonable modifications. So, even though some content is excepted from complying with the technical standard, the content will still need to be provided in an accessible format if a person with a disability requests it.

How do I check my Web Content for accessibility?

The Portland Bureau of Technology Services has approved the WAVE tool to run automated accessibility checks on web content. WebAIM has a help page on the WAVE tool. Manual tests are also needed to ensure web accessibility. The Web Accessibility Initiative has provided a short guide on some easy checks anyone can do to enhance accessibility. For more in-depth analysis you can contact Portland's Digital Accessibility Analyst, Joseph Sherman.

How do I check my documents for accessibility?

A document or application is considered accessible if it meets certain technical criteria and can be used by people with disabilities. To ensure that documents are ultimately accessible, content authors must utilize the formatting and layout options within Microsoft and Adobe Acrobat Pro that support structural markup. This structural markup ensures that assistive technology software can correctly discern and interpret the structure of the document.

Use the accessibility checker built-in to Microsoft and Adobe Acrobat software. Passing the accessibility checkers is a good first step but does not ensure your document is fully accessible. Portland maintains a page with many resources on accessibility document creation. For more in-depth analysis you can contact Portland's Digital Accessibility Analyst, Joseph Sherman.