We have listed a number of countries, but not all, that have laws or regulations requiring websites to be accessible to people with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that websites be accessible to people with disabilities, and the Department of Justice has issued guidance on web accessibility standards.
The Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability, which includes web accessibility. Canadian regulations that specify web accessibility requirements are the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the Accessible Canada Act (ACA).
The EU Web Accessibility Directive requires that public sector websites and mobile apps be accessible to people with disabilities.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1992 prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, including in the provision of goods and services online.
The Equality Act 2010 requires that websites be accessible to people with disabilities, and the government has adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as the standard for web accessibility.
In addition to national laws, some states and provinces within these countries may have their own laws or regulations on web accessibility. It's important to consult with legal experts and accessibility professionals to ensure compliance with the relevant laws and guidelines.
For more web accessibility laws and regulations, visit this page of various countries and their respective legislation.
Online disability access milestones
The push for online disability access began gaining traction in the early 2000s, as the internet became more pervasive and the benefits of digital accessibility became clearer.
One key milestone was the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, which prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities in various areas, including public accommodations. While the ADA did not explicitly address the internet, lawsuits in the late 1990s and early 2000s began to argue that the ADA applied to websites as well.
In 1999, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) was launched by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to develop guidelines for web accessibility, which became known, as previously mentioned, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines provided a framework for making websites more accessible to people with disabilities.
As the internet continued to evolve and more people began to rely on it for daily tasks, the importance of digital accessibility became more widely recognized. In addition, technological advances made it easier to create accessible websites and digital content.
Today, online disability access is seen as an essential component of digital inclusion and is increasingly being required by law. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure that all websites and digital content are fully accessible to people with disabilities.
For more information on web accessibility and how to make your website accessible, click here.