Section 508 Responsibilities of the
U.S. Department of Justice

Resolution 2014-10
Whereas, during the past year, the U.S. Solicitor General's office, through its refusal to defend the constitutionality of certain federal statutes in the Supreme Court, has established the principle that the government need not automatically defend the validity of all and any federal statutes; and
Whereas, even prior to these recent cases, the government has a long history of not defending agency actions in court in those instances where the agencies' actions are illegal or improper; and
Whereas, in addition to failing to defend agency actions through intervention, Statements of Interest (SOI's) or amicus participation, numerous precedents exist in which the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has declined to provide legal representation to agencies at all when agency actions are unconscionable or illegal; and
Whereas, recent reports by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the DOJ have documented and quantified widespread failure by federal agencies to comply with the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in connection with accessibility of their information and communications technology (ICT), including their public-facing websites; and
Whereas, both DOJ and OMB have made detailed and specific best-practices recommendations as to what procedural steps, accountability structures and outcome measures are needed in order to create a reasonable level and likelihood of compliance; and
Whereas, utilizing these benchmarks, together with those set forth by the U.S. Access Board in its Sec.  508 standards, it is possible to distinguish agencies that have made serious efforts to comply with Section 508 from those which have not;
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled on the 17th day of July, 2014, at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, that this organization urge the Attorney General of the United States to ensure the following:

  1.  That the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ establish a list of criteria that it will use in assessing good faith 508 compliance efforts by federal agencies; and
  2.  That DOJ notify all federal agencies, for whom DOJ's representation in court falls within DOJ's scope of responsibility, that suits alleging violation of Section 508, suits alleging violation of Section 504 by reason of 508-related actions or inactions, or suits alleging violation of Section 501 on the same basis, will not be defended by DOJ if the agency has not met the standards for good faith compliance efforts established by DOJ.

Ray Campbell, Secretary