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What are web accessibility compliance laws and do I need to follow those?

Compliance guidelines for web accessibility

In the twenty-first century, web accessibility is becoming an essential part of every website. Want to find an answer to your question? Order food, clothes, or dry cleaning? You can do that with one click, and the whole new world online opens. 

Can you imagine facing barriers online? 

Unfortunately, this is the case for millions of people around the world. They have limited experience due to inaccessible content online. This is the reason why more people, particularly site owners, need to have awareness regarding ADA website accessibility

More than 90% of websites on the internet are not entirely accessible. Certain content may be inaccessible to individuals with particular impairments, such as hearing loss or vision impairment. 

To provide equal experience in the online world, governments all around the globe have established guidelines and laws to overcome online inequality. This post will explain what Web Accessibility Compliance is, what the most common international guidelines are, and how you can make your website accessible today.

The Importance of Web Accessibility

Before we get into detail about what Web Accessibility Compliance is, it’s essential to understand why it’s so important. Web accessibility is becoming more and more important for both website owners and website users. It is starting to take the pedestal in this battle for equality. 

Today, every website needs to have the correct information and all digital barriers removed. You will not only provide your website audience with all of the information they are entitled to, but you will also expose your website to millions of individuals across the globe. 

Web accessibility standards are, without a doubt, a necessary basis for a 21st-century online economy that is both inclusive and accessible. They result in economic activity and the development of jobs, among other things.

Awareness of International Regulations

A change in attitude toward accessibility is taking place all across the world. You may have noticed that your phone or tablet now has a new function that enables you to record speech texting. The same accessible improvements are bringing giants like Apple, Google, and Facebook

More countries across the world have passed laws ensuring essential accessibility and non-discrimination in the use of information society technology, products, and services. It is crucial to be aware of the regulations for an accessible website, especially if you are the website owner.

Accessibility guarantees that everyone has access to the web’s content, products, environments, and services, regardless of their physical, auditive, or visual condition. To accomplish full accessibility and online inclusion, we need both national and international legislation with precise requirements every website will follow. 

Even though most people want their website to be accessible to everyone, the main reason why just 1% of all websites are fully accessible is due to the lack of knowledge. 

Let’s go a bit further into the topic of web accessibility regulations. 

What Are the Different Types of Web Accessibility Regulations, and How Do They Work?

Web accessibility laws are also known as online legislations, rules, standards, and guidelines. They are regulations that ensure that people with disabilities have access to the same information on the internet as everyone else. People with disabilities should view, interpret, explore, interact, and contribute to the online world the same way any other person can. 

Implications of Web Accessibility Compliance Examples

As a consequence of web accessibility compliance requirements, the following web components are being implemented:

  • Content refers to the information on a website or online application that includes natural elements such as text, pictures, video, and audio.
  • Browsers come with multimedia content players and other user agents.
  • Individuals with disabilities and restricted mobility utilize assistive technology such as screen reader programs, screen magnifiers, and alternative keyboards, among other things.
  • Website-building software is known as authoring software.
  • Some of the assessment tools include accessibility assessors, HTML validators, and CSS validators.

What areas of the web does Web Accessibility Regulation affect?

Web accessibility regulations and standards are in place to help people with disabilities use the Internet to their full potential. 

Due to barriers and limitations imposed by the absence of accessibility standards, people with disabilities cannot access all information. When websites are genuinely accessible, people with disabilities can access all of the information and services available on the internet.

For example, not purchasing food online because there is no easy way to explore the menu or contact the company. Or not visiting a government website for further information about your data are both common roadblocks. 

Pictures and graphics are not accessible to blind individuals if there is no alternative text with a description. Screen readers can read the alt text, and users with visual impairment can hear the audible description of the alt of the image. The accessibility tool can perform all of these adjustments in a fraction of the time.

When examining the benefits of website accessibility regulations, it is easy to link them to social responsibility. Making your business or website accessible can result in a significant boost to your brand’s image. 

Aside from that, the number of new customers, or those who may visit your website unexpectedly, is something worth keeping in mind. 

The rightful availability of services, products, and information for people with disabilities cannot be neglected.

Web Accessibility Compliance’s Benefits

Improving your online presence in this way is advantageous to you. Making your website accessible while following standards provide you with extra benefits:

  • The time it takes for a page to load will be decreased.
  • Search engine optimization has improved (SEO)
  • Mobile device display optimization
  • Navigation on the webpage that is user-friendly
  • All of these elements enhance the usability of your website, which not only increases client loyalty but also reinforces your company’s image, resulting in more new and satisfied customers in the long term.

What does it mean to be compliant?

When your website elements meet the functional and technical accessibility requirements, the page is considered compliant. These criteria may be country-specific or WAI-defined (Web Accessibility Initiative). 

Compliance Guidelines, why do they matter?

Web accessibility is a powerful weapon in the current fight to close the digital divide in the twenty-first century. We must push public policies and organizational methods so we can achieve digital equality together. 

It’s crucial for civilization’s long-term technological and cultural growth. Advocating, developing, and implementing online accessibility standards all contribute to the stimulation and promotion of innovation. They also assist in the development, expansion, and promotion of the brand.

Laws Governing Web Accessibility Around the World

If you see the value of online accessibility and want to improve your website, keep in mind that different regulations apply based on your location. A list of country-specific criteria has been developed. The Web accessibility regulations that apply to various countries are mentioned below.

Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 – Australia

On the internet, people with disabilities have limited access to all information.

In Australia, individuals who run websites, governmental and private organizations must comply with DDA. It encompasses employment, education, services, telecommunications, sports, and entertainment, among other things. Any organization that does not have a compliant website could be possibly risk the brand’s reputation.

The Accessible Canada Act – Canada

The Accessible Canada Act is the first step towards making Canada more accessible. Also, it is a comprehensive accessibility law that covers more than just internet access. 

It guarantees that people with disabilities have access to goods and services, equal employment opportunities, a comfortable transportation network, and access to an internet connection with appropriate tools to ensure a smooth experience. Users can immediately report and address issues related to accessibility. 

All federally financed organizations are obliged to comply with the ACA and WCAG 2.0 AA standards. 

Ontario’s Accessibility for People with Disabilities Act (AODA) – Canada

Another Canadian accessibility law is AODA. Websites connected to goods and service transportation may be found on the AODA. Information about technological, private, and public activities must have appropriate accessible features on the Internet.

AODA obliges non-governmental organizations, corporations, and the government to create a barrier-free communication system. Websites for the general public, businesses, and non-profits must have appropriate accessibility and authorization features. Except for the pre-recorded audio limitation for hearing problems, they must also adhere to the WCAG requirements (detailed below). 

Noncompliance and violations occurring on or after January 1st, 2021, will result in $100,000 penalties.

EN 301 549 – Directive on Web Accessibility – European Union 

The current EN 301 549 standards are based on WCAG 2.1 AA compliance. The EN 301 549 standards provide a foundation for the development of compliance recommendations by the EU Member States. Each member state was expected to have completed its regulations by September 2018. 

However, they serve as a minimum norm for the EU at the moment. The regulation applies to web and mobile apps and a wide variety of other technologies not covered by WCAG.

EN 301 549 includes the following topics:

  • Product-related services; Websites; Information and communication technology (ICT) goods
  • Any specialized telecommunications infrastructure needed to supply and route alternative voice communication formats (such as text or images) may provide everyone with access to emergency calls or relay services.
  • Ensuring that all content on websites and social media is fully accessible.
  • Providing information on how to use accessibility features to enhance the user experience.
  • Creating an excellent user assistance service that allows users to report and address accessibility issues promptly.

Every website in the European Union must comply with the regulatory requirements. All public-sector mobile applications must comply with the requirements by June 23rd, 2021.

Noncompliance will result in legal action, fines, negative media attention, and a decrease in users.

The 2010 Equality Act – United Kingdom 

This Act covers the following topics:

  • Making internet and mobile apps accessible and easy to navigate for people with disabilities. 
  • Providing a statement on websites regarding accessibility efforts. 
  • Websites that deal with product and service transportation, technology, and private and public activities are all eligible. 
  • All mobile apps must comply with the requirements by June 23, 2021. 
  • Non-compliance penalties, financial responsibilities may be imposed on any business or public organization that does not have a readily available website resulting in brand damage.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – USA

It requires federal agencies to ensure that all websites are accessible to persons with disabilities. Every federal agency with a US headquarters, including branches outside the country, is obliged to comply.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – USA

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. 

ADA ensures that everyone, regardless of their condition, has the same rights and opportunities. The establishment of a barrier-free, effective communication system is needed at all levels of government. 

Websites that do not comply with Section 508 and ADA regulations risk penalization and bad publicity.

JIS X 8341-3 – Japan

JIS X 8341-3 is a web accessibility compliance that ensures individuals with disabilities and the elderly understand online platforms. 

Websites that deal with product and service transportation, technology, and private and public activities are all eligible. They have to provide different formats of the same information to meet the requirements.

JIS X 8341-3 applies to all departments and agencies of the federal government. 

Legal action, financial fines, and bad media publicity are all possible consequences of noncompliance.

The 2013 Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Act – Israel

The Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Act became part of the law in 2013. The main implementations of this Act are: 

  • The Act guarantees access to the information provided by technical methods for those with disabilities and the elderly.
  • Controlling and monitoring web accessibility compliance for institutional websites, information society services, and electronic commerce. 
  • The Act requires all websites to be compensated for their website accessibility efforts so that entities can achieve it at no cost. 
  • Web Accessibility Compliance is expected of ministries, companies, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and others. 

Any organization with a website or social media page that violates the rules will be fined NIS 50,000.

Stanca Act – Italy

In 2004, the Stanca Act was passed in Italy to improve information technology accessibility. The legislation seeks to improve all Italian websites, including governments. 

Stanca Act’s characteristics: 

  • The Stanca Act ensures that individuals with disabilities have equal access and equal opportunities.
  • The Act obliges all government organizations to use information society, social communication media technology, products, and services timely and efficiently. 
  • The Stanca Act covers the private and public sectors, municipalities, companies, and telecommunications that the government controls entirely or partially. 

Failure to follow the Stanca Act may result in legal action, fines, and the loss of long-term customers.

Equal Opportunity Act – Germany

The Equal Opportunity Act in Germany identifies and includes language and data table summaries in a document. 

The navigation sequence utilizing the key Tab must be sensible and include links, controls, and objects. It encompasses the idea of electronic access to information and services via systems that enable their secure and comprehensible acquisition. 

Compliance is required of all federal organizations, companies, government-controlled institutions, and federation foundations. Websites that don’t comply with the Equal Opportunity Act’s standards may be punished, and their brands may be harmed, with the amount of the fine changing from case to case.

WCAG guidelines (Web Content on Accessibility Guidelines) are international regulations on web accessibility compliance.

The W3C (Worldwide Web Consortium) is one of the most comprehensive online encyclopedias on web accessibility. 

For all accessibility information, they established the WAI or Web Accessibility Initiative.

These easy steps can help you start improving your website to meet accessibility standards:

  • Organize your website in a simple and understandable manner: The structure of a website is relevant for its accessibility. In a couple of seconds, all information must be accessible. Keep a consistent text structure in headers, subheadings, paragraphs, and lists.
  • Fill in the replacement text for the images: Users with visual impairments often utilize screen reader software, which reads aloud or reproduces the screen display. This software, on the other hand, is incapable of recognizing images and translating what is shown. Because of this, alt descriptions are necessary to provide the screen reader with the text to read to users and paint the picture for them. 
  • Ensure there’s enough contrast between the colors: Your website’s foreground and background should have the option to adjust the contrast levels.
  • Use simple language: Ensure that the language is easy to understand and that the wording is precise.
  • Videos should have subtitles: The majority of visitors who come to your site on their phones want to view your content without having to turn on their speakers. 

Conclusion Web Accessibility Compliance

Regulations are created to define the requirements that enable entities to implement them to achieve web accessibility compliance.

Regulations vary on the type of entity (for example, if the institution has been funded by the government or not). Also, the Accessibility Regulation applicable depends on the country of the entity’s registration.  

We hope that this guide will help you understand the importance of compliance with accessibility regulations and give you guidance on how to implement it for a riskless operation on the web. Protect your business, provide access to everyone regardless of their status, and essentially, do the right thing. 

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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