Introduction

Laws

Legislation is a strong expression of the political and societal awareness and will to implement accessibility as a fundamental human right. This chapter presents some basic information about web accessibility laws and their impact on everyday practice of web design, development and usage. The explanations offered in this section are for informative purposes only and do not represent legal advice. Contact your team's CELA representative for official guidance around the legal landscape for accessibility.

Web accessibility laws tend to fit into the following categories:

  • Civil rights laws: These are laws that emphasize equal rights for people with disabilities, often making it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities under certain defined conditions, such as employment, access to buildings, government services, or "places of public accommodation" such as restaurants, retail, entertainment, etc. Sometimes these laws include technical standards. Other times they do not. The Americans with Disabilities Act is an example of a civil rights law.
  • Procurement laws: These laws require that accessibility be taken into account when making a purchase or when contracting for services. For example, the law could state that if there are three potential products and two of them meet accessibility standards, only the products that meet the standards should be considered for purchase. It would be against the law to buy the product that does not meet accessibility standards. The most prominent procurement laws (like Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in the United States, and EN 301 549 in the European Union) apply only to government entities, but it is possible that a future law could impact private businesses.
  • Industry-specific laws: Sometimes an industry is so important to accessibility that the government writes a law just for that industry. Examples include telecommunications and airplane travel, both of which have accessibility-related laws in the United States, which are the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), respectively.

Disclaimer: Again, the legal information provided here is presented in an abbreviated format for informational purposes only, and—though provided in good faith that it represents accurate information—should not be construed as authorized legal advice. Contact your team's CELA representative for official guidance around the legal landscape for accessibility.

By studying this section and completing the quiz, you should be able to:

  • Present an overview of national, federal and international web accessibility legislation
  • Explain the differences in scope, implications and demands of legislation
  • Analyze the applicable legal framework for each web project and for different roles

Summary

The goal is to use accessibility to drive innovation

There are real challenges to solve in accessibility. Let those challenges drive innovation. Let them be the inspiration that lifts the design to the next level. Don't be satisfied with "good enough" or compliant. Think creatively. Think inclusively. Always design with accessibility in mind.

Accessibility matters a lot to people with disabilities

Compliance does not equate to a great user experience; your creativity and commitment to accessibility will be the deciding factor in how we raise the bar for what customers expect when using our products and services. Inaccessible web sites are not just inconvenient for people with disabilities, they are blocking. You have the power to make your product better by making it usable by all people, and giving everyone equal access to information.

Failing to make a web site accessible has real consequences for real people. Inaccessible web sites take away freedoms that people with disabilities would otherwise enjoy, reducing quality of life, and making day-to-day tasks difficult or impossible. Let's do our part to design a more inclusive and more welcoming experience for all our customers.

Resources

Deque University

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United States

Checklist - Deque

United States

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Download Summary & Checklist

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Tips & Tricks

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA applies to:
  • Private entities that own, operate, lease, or lease to places of public accommodation
  • Federal and state government entities
The ADA is enforced by:
  • Consumers (people with disabilities) filing formal complaints

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 508 applies to:
  • US federal government entities only
Section 508 is enforced by:
  • Consumers (people with disabilities) filing formal complaints

21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA)

The CVAA applies to:
  • All entities already covered by FCC regulations
The CVAA is enforced by:
  • Consumers (people with disabilities) filing formal complaints

Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

The ACAA applies to:
  • All entities already covered by FCC regulations
The ACAA is enforced by:
  • Consumers (people with disabilities) filing formal complaints

State Web Accessibility Laws

  • Many U.S. States have their own web accessibility laws, usually aimed at state and local government, which can include K-12 schools and universities.

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Europe

Checklist - Deque

Europe

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Tips & Tricks

European Union - EN 301 549

The EN 301 549:
  • The original mandate was for use in public procurement of ICT
  • Aims to improve the functioning of the internal market for accessible products and services
  • Removing barriers created by divergent legislation
  • This will facilitate the work of companies
  • EU may decide to apply EN 301 549 to both public and private sectors
Special attention for “banking services”:
  • The accessibility of ATM’s
  • Information, instruction and warnings on labels
  • Promoting Universal design
  • Web accessibility, (WCAG 2.0)
European Countries
  • Several European countries already have their own web accessibility laws
  • All laws are being aligned with the European Standard

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Other regions

Checklist - Deque

Other regions

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Download Summary & Checklist

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Tips & Tricks

Many other countries have their own web accessibility policies, often based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 AA, like:

  • Australia
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • China
  • Japan
  • New Zealand

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