The Many Laws of Accessibility, Part 2: Laws & Regulations
In this post, I'll continue my learning about accessibility laws after covering conventions and treaties in Part 1: Conventions & Treaties. I'll cover:
- Civil rights laws,
- Procurement laws, and
- Technology laws (US & abroad).
President George Bush signing the Americans With Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
Civil Rights LawsPermalink for "Civil Rights Laws"
Civil rights laws exist to secure equal rights for people with disabilities by requiring most public and private institutions to reduce or eliminate the conditions that disable people from participating independently in the workforce, public services, and digital arenas. Some civil rights laws sprouted from efforts of rehabilitation for
disabled veterans. Several countries have moved past defining the generalized rights of humans to target more specific areas, like information and communication technologies (ICT). Civil rights laws provide guidelines on how to meet accessibility, but often they are not actively enforced or monitored. It falls on citizens to file a complaint.
Examples of civil rights laws for people with disabilities, by country:
- Canada (Ontario - 2005): Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
- Japan (2013): Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (EPDA) [external PDF]
- United Kingdom (2010): Equality Act of 2010 (EQA), which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995), is a broader human rights law, and doesn't explicitly give instruction about websites, but rather a provision of a service
- United States:
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which addresses public accommodation for people with disabilities, came into existence in 1990, has had several amendments to Title II and III since its inception
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, addressed federally-funded education and employment for people with disabilities
- Civil Rights Act (1964, 1991) was a step in the right direction to set up equal rights for everyone, though people with disabilities weren't originally included in the language
- More laws that influenced the ADA
Procurement LawsPermalink for "Procurement Laws"
Procurement refers to the process of government entities purchasing goods and services from external sources. Regulations are set into place on procurement, in order to protect the rights of people with disabilities.
Examples of procurement laws (specifically directed at technology purchases) that protect the rights of people with disabilities, by country:
- European Union: EN 301 549 "Accessibility requirements for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe", aimed at the public sector, is not a law anymore because ICT accessibility is left for each country to enforce; it was a good motivating step forward
- United States: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (1998, 2000, 2018), aimed at the federal government and trickles down to anyone who does business with the federal government, was created by the United States Access Board
Technology LawsPermalink for "Technology Laws"
- Telecommunications Act, Section 255: requires accessibility of telephones, computers, or other telecommunication devices
- 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA): requires more complex technologies, like streaming media, video chat, VoIP, text messaging (expansion of Telecommunications Act) to be accessible
- Air Carrier Access Act (U.S.): air carriers in US must accommodate physical needs and virtual access for people with disabilities
States within the US may have their own web accessibility laws, usually applied heavily to government (state, local) and education (K-12, universities).
Around the worldPermalink for "Around the world"
I'm much more familiar with U.S. law (probably because I'm American), but I want to do better and get acquainted with laws in other countries. I broke down the information I learned from Deque by country.
|Country or Region||Law||Requirements||Who must comply|
|Canada||Web Standards for the Government of Canada||Includes accessibility, usability, interoperability, and mobile devices||Government of Canada|
|Quebec||Standards sur l'accessibilité du Web [Web Accessibility Standards]||Modified WCAG Level AA||Quebec government|
|Country||Law||Requirements||Who must comply|
|France||Référentiel Général d'Accessibilité pour les Administrations (RGAA) [General Accessibility Reference for Administrations]||WCAG Level AA||Central government & public services|
|Germany||Barrierefreie-Informationstechnik-Verordnung (BITV 2) [Accessible Information Technology Ordinance]||Modified WCAG||Government|
|Ireland||The Disability Act of 2005 & Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information provided by Public Bodies||WCAG 1.0||Government|
|Italy||Law 4/2004 ("Stanca" Law)
[Accessibilità siti web]
|WCAG||Public Sector, Government|
|Netherlands||Aanbestedingswet 2012 [Procurement Act]||WCAG Level AA||Government|
|Spain||Law 34/2002 [Information Society & E-Commerce Services Act]Law 51/2003 [Non Discrimination Act]||WCAG 1.0 Level AA||Government|
|Country||Law||Requirements||Who must comply|
|Australia||Disability Discrimination Act||WCAG Level AA||Government & non-government|
|New Zealand||Human Rights Amendment Act 2001; Web Accessibility Standard 1.1; Web Usability Standard 1.3||WCAG Level AA||Private and public for Human Rights;Government (for web accessibility & usability standards)|
|Country/Region||Law||Requirements||Who must comply|
|Hong Kong||Guidelines on Dissemination of Information through Government Websites||WCAG Level AA||Government|
|India||Indian Web Accessibility Guidelines||WCAG Level AA||Government|
|Japan||Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) X 8341||Based on WCAG||Central and local government|
More lists of lawsPermalink for "More lists of laws"
- cielo 24: Accessibility Laws by State
- Lainey Feingold: Digital Accessibility Laws around the World
- Level Access: Accessibility Laws & Standards
- PowerMapper: Government accessibility standards & WCAG
- W3C: Web Accessibility Laws & Policies
- WebAIM: World Laws
- Wikipedia: US State Laws & Policies for ICT
ConclusionPermalink for "Conclusion"
There is a lot of material to digest here! As I mentioned, the US laws are familiar enough to me, thanks to the past trainings I've prepared for co-workers and others. The gist of several of these laws comes down to respecting human rights, and updating some language of these rights to include modern technologies, including the web. The web is for everyone, and we all should have the right to access services that are provided online.