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Navigating International Accessibility Laws

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While some international accessibility laws clearly mandate digital accessibility, others are broader and subject to interpretation. Further, some laws apply only to entities in the public sector, while others apply only to the private sector. To add complexity, some apply to both. 

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With web accessibility laws in a constant state of flux and often lacking clarity, discerning which mandates apply to your business or organization can be challenging. To help, we’ve summarized by country, the major anti-discrimination laws, regulations, and standards that relate to, or require digital accessibility.  Here’s what you need to know about international accessibility laws.

United States

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)  is an anti-discrimination law that requires accessibility of places of public accommodation.  U.S. courts have interpreted the ADA to apply to digital offerings.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 508:

Section 508 requires federal agencies to make their information and communications technology (ICT) accessible to people with disabilities.  The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA conformance has been incorporated into the law.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504:

Section 504 requires recipients of federal government aid and assistance to provide for accessibility, including communications such as websites.

Canada

Accessible Canada Act (ACA):

The ACA provides for the development of accessibility standards and gives the Government of Canada the authority to work with stakeholders and people with disabilities to create new accessibility regulations that will apply to sectors within the federal jurisdiction. It also sets out requirements for organizations to follow in order to identify, remove, and prevent barriers to accessibility.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

This law protects the human rights of all Canadian citizens, including protection from discrimination on the basis of disability.

Canadian Standard on Web Accessibility: 

The Canadian Standard on Web Accessibility requires all Canadian government websites and web applications to conform to WCAG 2.0 AA.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA):

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires WCAG 2.0 AA conformance (with exceptions for audio descriptions and live captions).

European Union

(These international accessibility laws apply to countries in the EU: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden)

Directive EU 2016/2102:

This legislation requires public sector websites and mobile applications to be accessible.

European Accessibility Act:

This Act provides a common set of rules for trade designed to ensure accessibility of products and services between the European Union member states.

EN 301 549:

EN 301 549 is the European standard for digital accessibility, which sets requirements for information and communications technology (ICT). This standard sets requirements for public procurement of products and services between European Union states.  In version 2.1.2, WCAG 2.1 AA was incorporated. The standard includes web and mobile applications, but also includes ICT products, services related to products, and telecommunication services.

Australia

Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) (1992):

This Act prohibits discrimination because of disability. In 2010, the Australian Human Rights Commission provided advisory notes to assist with compliance with the DDA. While not law, these notes assist in DDA rulings and recommend WCAG 2.0 AA conformance for government and non-government websites and web resources.

India

Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act:

India officials signed the Convention on the Rights on the Persons of Persons with Disabilities Act, and has followed through with the Guidelines for Indian Government Websites, which incorporates WCAG.

Israel

Israel Standard 5568:

This establishes the digital accessibility standard for both public and private entities, incorporating WCAG 2.0 AA.

Japan

Japanese Industrial Standard X 8413-3:

This Standard provides guidelines for planning and developing web content to ensure the elderly and persons with disabilities have access. It follows International Organization of Standardization Guideline 71, rather than WCAG, but there is significant overlap.

United Kingdom

The Equality Act of 2010:

This Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in connection with employment or the provision of goods, facilities, and/or services. It affects all entities – private and public – who provide services to the public.

British National Standard (BSI 8878): 

This is the web accessibility Code of Practice published by the British Standards Intuition for developing processes to plan and create accessible web products. 

New Zealand

New Zealand Human Rights Act:

This Act protects human rights, including discrimination against disability.

Web Accessibility Standard 1.1:

This Standard requires all public service and non-public service agencies to meet the New Zealand Government Web Accessibility Standard which incorporates WCAG 2.1 AA with exceptions provided for complex visual maps, alternatives for time-based media, live captions, audio descriptions.

Help navigating the compliance complexities

As legal requirements continue to evolve, and the web accessibility standards adapt to changing technology, don’t navigate compliance complexities alone. eSSENTIAL Accessibility experts are not only savvy to regulatory requirements, we can help you understand which international accessibility laws apply to your organization. And our solution not only helps bring your digital assets into compliance with applicable regulations, it keeps them that way.

For a demo of our Accessibility-as-a-Service platform, reach out to our team today

What to do next

We can help you meet WCAG standards and maintain ADA and AODA compliance:

  1. Connect with us today to learn more about our comprehensive approach to digital accessibility, including our automated and manual auditing capabilities and extensive range of managed services.
  2. Visit our resources section to download free white papers and webinars, and find our newest blogs on industry trends.
  3. Connect with us to continue the conversation on Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook.

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