Take a Deep Breath.

Over the summer, the Department of Justice announced an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on the Accessibility of Web Information and Services Provided by Entities Covered by the ADA. Most folks didn’t notice, but a few did. Some may even have panicked and thought “Oh my God, I need to make my Web site Section 508 Compliant by tomorrow!”

The following isn’t legal advice, but thoughts on some of the alarms the announcement caused, a few calming words.

All Web sites will need to be Section 508 compliant – and therefore be very ugly.

This isn’t about Section 508. It’s about ADA. If a ticket-purchasing site fails to put an alt tag on the dreamy picture of Justin Beiber, it’s not Section 508 compliant. But if a user with a disability can buy a ticket, then the site would likely be considered ADA compliant.

My non-profit’s site will have to be ADA compliant.

The ADA applies to organizations offering goods and services. So if you sell something on your Web site, then yes, you will have to be compliant. What is a bit murky is whether or not accepting donations online will be considered a good/service. But a site that touts how awesome your work is will not likely be covered under the new rules.

I’m going to have to do a lot of work to make my site ADA compliant.

ADA compliance for non-profits is going to be all about transactions – eCommerce, Event Registration, and maybe even donations. But most organizations don’t build these themselves – they hire a vendor. So vendors do have their work cut out for them. But most non-profit staff will be spared a lot of the pain.

I need to make my site 100% accessible right now!

No new laws were enacted over the summer. We’re probably years down the road from any major changes to ADA as it affects the Web world.

This is all a bit excessive

People said the same thing when ADA was first passed. But now, I don’t think many of us can imagine going to a store/restaurant/museum/concert venue that doesn’t have ramps, elevators, and other services for the disabled. Twenty years from now, we will look back at this time and say “can you believe there was a time when Web sites weren’t accessible to everyone?”

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