Accessibility Grace Period

On May 24th Governor Polis signed into law House Bill 24-1454, which delays liability for digital accessibility problems until July 2025 provided the organization claiming immunity meets certain requirements. The Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) describes the grace period bill and how it compares to the earlier rules in this memo (Google Doc).

Many of us have been working diligently to clear up accessibility problems with our websites before July 1. If you’ve already made good progress–even if you won’t be able to fix all known accessibility issues before July 1–the grace period bill is probably not necessary. 

But if your organization is only in the early stages of mitigating accessibility issues, the grace period could give you some necessary breathing room. But it’s not a simple extra year to work on accessibility issues. The grace period bill has its own requirements you have to fulfill in order to qualify for immunity from liability. 

To qualify for the grace period you have to demonstrate a good faith effort to fix non-compliant technology, and that must include:

  1. A progress-to-date report that demonstrates concrete and specific efforts to improve accessibility. The report must be posted on your public-facing web pages.
  2. Updating that progress report at least quarterly.
  3. Creating a clear, easy-to-find process for requesting redress of inaccessible digital products, including contact options that are not dependent on web access or digital accessibility, such as a phone number or postal address. These reporting options must be prominently displayed on all front-facing web pages.

If you’ve done those things, and a judge considers that you are indeed making a good faith effort to comply, then any lawsuit should be dismissed.

There’s a good deal of overlap between the immunity bill’s requirements and what’s required under the earlier rules. If you’ve been working on compliance with the rules, you probably already have an accessibility statement on your front-facing web pages, and that statement already includes more than one way users can submit accessibility complaints. You probably also have an overall accessibility plan that tracks your progress in meeting compliance requirements. 

The OIT presents the grace period bill as an alternative to compliance with the earlier rules. In other words, you should choose one of the two paths. The grace period bill at least gives organizations in the early stages of accessibility improvements some more options for getting into compliance. 

Babi Hammond
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