Accessibility laws worldwide

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Small handbook for inclusion guidelines

Everyone should be able to participate equally in digital media. But not everyone has the opportunity to do so. Around 1 billion people worldwide have a disability. Of these, 215 million are visually impaired and therefore have major problems with the usability of websites. It is no longer enough to just make buildings accessible; inclusion must also be practiced on the Internet. That is why there is an international standard for digital accessibility. The "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines", WCAG for short.

What exactly are the WCAG guidelines?

The WCAG are a set of guidelines developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that provide a framework for website accessibility for people with disabilities. They are recognized as a national standard in many countries and are based on the four principles of perceptibility, usability, comprehensibility, and robustness. The latter means that web content must be interpretable by a wide range of users, including assistive technologies.
The guidelines are divided into three levels of conformity: A, AA and AAA. Level AA is the minimum standard required by accessibility laws in many countries. However, since national accessibility laws can differ, we have summarized the most important laws of some countries for you:

Europe

european flag

The legal situation in Europe also refers to two authoritative directives. The "European Accessibility Act" and "EN 301 549".

The latter, the European Union's Web Accessibility Directive, requires all public sector websites and mobile apps to comply with WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards. The directive applies to all EU member states and aims to improve access to public sector websites and apps for people with disabilities.

 

The European Accessibility Act or also EAA obligates the member states, among other things, to make online trade in goods and services accessible to consumers. This directive must be implemented in the national legislation of all EU countries by 28 June 2025.

Germany

German flag

There are two laws on accessibility here so far: the "Disability Equality Act" (BGG) and the "Federal Ordinance on Barrier-Free Information Technology" (BITV).

 

The BGG applies to the Confederation, its agencies, public foundations and institutions, as well as their subsidiaries and companies that are subordinate to, controlled by, or appointed by the Confederation. It covers goods and services. This means, for example, means of transportation, technical and non-technical products, information sources and communication facilities. It requires to make websites and mobile app content accessible to all people, offer alternatives, and publish an accessibility statement for their websites or mobile apps. In addition, a report on the status of accessibility must be submitted every three years.

 

The BITV applies to all public institutions, federal authorities and their suppliers, contractors and partners. The BITV obliges the design of information and communication technology that is accessible to people with all types of disabilities. With BITV 2.0, the WCAG guidelines were enshrined in law.

 

On June 28,2025 also comes into force the Barrier-Free Reinforcement Act in short BFSG comes into force. This requires the barrier-free design of online stores. As far as products and services are concerned, the law promotes the equal and non-discriminatory participation of people with disabilities, limitations and older people.

USA

USA flag

There are two important accessibility laws in the USA. One of them is "Section 508." It ensures that all electronic and information technology that is developed, procured, maintained or used is accessible to people with disabilities.

 

The other law is theAmericans with DisabilitiesAct (ADA) is a U.S. law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including employment, education, and transportation.

Canada

Canada flag

The Canadian government has had Internet accessibility laws in place for some time. Recently, theCanadian Human Rights Act of 1977, which prohibits restrictions and discrimination against people, was replaced with explicit disability access laws.

 

The "Canadian Standard on Web Accessibility" applies here. This standard applies to Canadian government departments, agencies, branches, and institutions. The standard mandates making the web accessible to people with disabilities and meeting WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliance requirements.

 

In Canada, the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) applies. This regulation ensures that people with disabilities are not restricted in obtaining goods and services, employment, transportation, and information and communication technology, including digital content and the technologies used to access it.

 

Who must comply: Private or non-profit organizations with more than 50 employees and all public sector organizations.

 

Another law is theAccessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act(AODA). It requires all public and private sector organizations to make their goods, services, and information and communication products equally accessible to the public.

 

Further, there is also the AMA, "Accessibility for Manitobans Act." This mandates the accessibility of websites, mobile applications, and digital content of public and private sector organizations for people with various forms of disabilities. Again, WCAG is taken as the standard reference.

 

TheNova Scotia Accessibility Actis Canada's third provincial accessibility law and came into force in April 2017. It requires public and private sector organizations to ensure that goods, services, and information and communication technology, including websites and mobile applications, are accessible to people with impairments. It refers to the requirements of WCAG 2.0 AA.

England

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In the United Kingdom, theEquality Act of2010 prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the provision of goods, facilities, and services, including websites.

 

Regulations in thePublic Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018require public sector bodies to comply with the WCAG 2.1 AA international accessibility standard and publish an accessibility statement.

 

In addition, the government has specified the international "BS ISO 30071-1 standard" to improve accessibility, promote inclusive design, usability and user experience in web design, and ensure accessibility for disabled and older people. This standard complies with the Equality Act 2010 and also relates to WCAG 2.0. The new accessibility regulations apply to UK public bodies from September 23, 2018.

Israel

Israel flag

In Israel, theEqual rights for people with disabilities actof 2013 requires websites and applications that provide services and/or information to the public to be accessible. The Israeli anti-discrimination law also follows the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards.

Japan

Japan flag

The Japanese government is a pioneer in seeking international standards for accessibility and technologies. As early as 1999, the Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications issued a statement on Internet accessibility guidelines.

 

The Japanese Internet Accessibility Law for Web Content and Information, "JIS X 8341-3″, affects all ministries and the public sector in the country and requires consideration of aspects that must be adhered to in the planning, design, development, production, maintenance, and operation of web content to ensure that web content and information is accessible to the elderly and people with disabilities. The regulation applies to government goods, services, communications, information, and activities.

 

The guidelines in this bill do not adopt the WCAG guidelines, but have similar criteria to WCAG 2.0. However, they are not legally binding.

Australia

Australia flag

TheDisability Discrimination Act of 1992 is Australia's most important Internet accessibility law. It applies to all Australian government agencies and organizations that provide goods, facilities, or services, and requires them to make their information accessible to all people, including people with disabilities. WCAG 2.0 AA is the standard reference for web accessibility accepted by the Australian government.

Italy

Italy flag

The "Stanca Act" was introduced in Italy to ensure that information and services are accessible to older people and people with disabilities without discrimination. The Act requires compliance with the WCAG 2.0 AA criteria and establishes 22 technical requirements that went into effect on July 8, 2005.

 

It applies to all Italian government agencies and public sectors, as well as to regional municipal companies, including the transport or telecom sector in which the state has a stake.

India

India flag

Here there are two laws that dictate the accessibility of the country. The "Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPD) and the "Guidelines for Indian Government Websites." The RPD applies to the public and private sectors and covers areas such as the arts, culture, healthcare, justice, infrastructure, education and employment.

The "Guidelines for Indian Government" require the barrier-free design of information and communication technology.

 

The guidelines for Indian government websites state that all content must be designed to be accessible and apply to all public agencies and federal agencies.

France

France flag

In France, the Law "№ 2005-102 Article 47" there have been regulations on accessibility on the Internet since 2005. It stipulates that all public online communication services must be accessible to people with disabilities. It also calls for a multi-year plan to make the services offered accessible.

 

The law finds its application in the "RGAA" the general accessibility framework. This serves as the French government's official guide to improving web accessibility for the population with disabilities and is based on the WCAG 2.0 international standard and the WCAG 2.1 AA of EN 301 549 V2.1.2 (EU standard).

Brazil

Brazil flag

Brazil was also very early with its inclusive legislation. The law passed in 2000 "L. 10.098" mandates accessibility in communication and the removal of barriers and guarantees the right of people with disabilities to information and communication and affects all government websites.

 

The law was amended in 2004 to include "Ordinance 5.296″ . Among other things, it stipulates that all government agency websites must be made accessible to people with disabilities within 12 months and must bear a symbol indicating accessibility.

Spain

Spain flag

In Spain, there are four national laws on accessibility, including the "Law 34″, which requires the accessibility of public administration websites and all websites financed with public funds.

The "Royal Decree 209" discusses the W3C WCAG guidelines for achieving priority level AA.

 

Further, there is still the "Law 51″, which deals with equality of opportunity, non-discrimination and universal accessibility for people with disabilities, and the "Law 59″which establishes guidelines for electronic signatures.

Also, if there are many laws regulating accessibility on the Internet exists, the road to digital inclusion is still long. With the collaboration of governments, businesses, and society, we can create a world where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential and actively participate in the digital world. We, at Eye-Able, will continue to use our expertise to develop innovative solutions and drive accessibility standards at Eye-Able .

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