Important Content


Navigation Guide


Digital Accessibility Laws Around the Globe

GAAD LogoOriginally posted on May 9, 2013 (Global Accessibility Awareness Day) this post is frequently updated to add new content from countries around the world. Global Accessibility Day is a good day to become aware of laws around the globe that impact digital accessibility. Laws related to digital accessibility support and protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. Core components of life in the 21st century exist in the digital space, and without accessibility, basic human rights are diminished or completely denied. These include the right to education, employment, public services, health care, financial privacy, community, travel and more. Laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities to access digital services and content — whether those services and content is found on the web, in a mobile application, through electronic kiosks or elsewhere — are an important piece of the puzzle that makes digital accessibility a reality.

The list in this post is intended to serve as a resource only. It is not legal advice and it is not exhaustive. While frequently updated, it may not be current as of the date you are visiting this page. Please use the Contact Page on this website to let us know what is missing, what should be changed or included. This list is updated as new information becomes available.

Follow LFLegal on Twitter for updates about digital accessibility legal developments. (The Law Office of Lainey Feingold is counting on its international colleagues and Twitter followers for help in updating this list and keeping it current!)

Laws, Regulations and Treaties Impacting Digital Accessibility (Partial Listing)

United Nations Treaties

  • CRPD: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) is a comprehensive document ratified by over 140 countries, though not the United States. Article 9 of the CRPD, titled “Accessibility” recognizes the right of people with disabilities to full participation, including access to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems. Read the full CRPD. Read the post on this website about how the United States senate failed to ratify the CRPD in 2012.
  • WIPO: In June, 2013, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations agency, adopted a landmark treaty to advance the right to read for people who are blind or otherwise print-disabled. Read the WIPO press release about adoption of the Treaty. The treaty, officially known as the “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled” eliminates copyright roadblocks that have created an international “book famine” for those who need alternative formats to standard print information. Read the post on this website about the WIPO Treaty.

Australia and New Zealand

Brazil

Canada

Thank you Jan Richards, Project Manager at the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) at OCAD University for providing the information posted here and for agreeing to serve as a contact person for those interested in learning more about digital accessibility in Canada.

Denmark

  • In Denmark, the Agency for Digitisation (the “Digitatliseringsstyrelsen” in Danish) under the Danish Ministry of Finance handles certain tasks relating to IT accessibility in the public sector. This is done in “KIA”, their “IT For All Competency Center”. They provide information and counsel to government agencies and suppliers concerning the compliance and implementation of the international guidelines for accessibility on the Web – WCAG – which, in Denmark, acts as a compulsory open standard for public authorities. Other tasks include analysis and focus on IT accessibility in projects under the common eGovernment Strategy 2011-2015. There are three theme areas on the site: Toolbox [templates, guides, tutorials, etc. about web accessibility]; Analyses, studies, and surveys; Standards, requirements and recommendations.More information in Danish on the Agency for Digitisation website. Thank you Karen Mardahl (http://mardahl.dk) for the English synopsis above, based on this site.

European Union

[Note: this category is for the European Union itself. Countries within the European Union listed in their appropriate place in alphabetic order elsewhere on this list]

Holland

Information about Holland listed under The Netherlands, below.

Iceland

On October 5th, 2012, the Icelandic government officially declared that it intends to enact legislation requiring public sector websites to be WCAG 2.0 AA compliant by January 1, 2015. The details of the legislation are being worked on, and the over-all state of accessibility in Iceland will be assessed in the Fall of 2013 as part of the government plans for the Icelandic Information Society 2013 – 2016. Read the English translation of the Icelandic announcement regarding the policy and legislation. You can also read the announcement in Icelandic.

Thank you Birkir Gunnarsson for providing the information posted here and for agreeing to serve as a contact person for those interested in learning more about digital accessibility in Iceland.

India

Japan

The Netherlands (Holland)

These sites, maintained by the Dutch government, have guidelines on designing, building, and maintaining websites. The initiative was originally aimed at all federal websites and uses open standards. Note that the English version is not updated as often as the Dutch site.

Philippines

United Kingdom

United States

The digital accessibility legal landscape is flourishing in the United States. Significant strides towards full inclusion of people with disabilities in the digital world have been made as a result of grassroots advocacy, Structured Negotiations, litigation by both private parties and the federal government, and successful administrative complaints involving the United States Department of Justice, United States Department of Education.

All of these legal advocacy efforts are grounded in a robust and diverse amalgam of state and federal laws and regulations recognizing the civil rights of people with disabilities to participate in the digital world. Here is a sampling of those laws:

Other Resources About United States Legal Advocacy

  • An overview of the U.S. digital accessibility legal landscape can be found in the presentation (posted on SlideShare) that Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian gave at the 2013 CSUN Conference entitled “Digital Accessibility: 2013 CSUN Legal Update (Web, Mobile, More!).
  • Using the collaborative process of Structured Negotiations, many of the largest entities in the United States have committed to various aspects of digital accessibility. Visit the Web Accessibility Press Release Category on this website for a summary of all press releases announcing web accessibility settlements, with links to the full releases and settlements.
  • The most recent significant court ruling in the United States about web accessibility came in June, 2012 when a federal court in Massachusetts ruled that the ADA covered Netflix’ streaming video service. Read the post about the Netflix decision.
  • Pending litigation on the accessibility of digital books involving copyright issues could change the landscape for readers with print disabilities around the world. Read about the Google Book litigation, currently on appeal in the federal court system.
  • The Talking ATM Category on this website has extensive information about the accessibility of ATMs, including press releases, settlement agreements, history and international installations of this type of accessible digital technology.

[ Top ]