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Lawful accessibility requirements

Physicists and philosophers seem to like nothing more than telling us that everything we thought about the world is wrong. They take a peculiar pleasure in exposing common sense as nonsense. But Tim Maudlin thinks our direct impressions of the world are a better guide to reality than we have been led to believe.

European legislation

Alongside to Member States developing their own local accessibility laws, the European Union also developed Directives legislating web accessibility.

The EU went through the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2010, and adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 as a minimum standard for web development. The EU also published the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which states that discrimination based on grounds of disability, among others, is prohibited, and recognizes the rights of persons with disabilities and the need to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community. Specifically for public services agencies, the EU purposed a Directive on the accessibility of the public sector bodies' websites.

Please mind that these European Directives only sit in a complementary position according to State Laws provided by Member States. Check your country's mendatory legislative portal for more information.

Read the EU Policy on Accessibility

United States legislation

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a civil rights law. It was the first civil rights legislation in the United States designed to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination based on their disability status. This statute was intended to prevent intentional or unintentional discrimination based on a person's disability. Included as an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the message of this section is concise; Section 504, 29 U.S.C.§794, states: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States... shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance". Programs receiving federal funds may not discriminate against those with disabilities based on their disability status.

Section 508, in the same Act, bars the Federal government from procuring electronic and information technology goods and services that are not fully accessible to those with disabilities. It directed the Access Board to create binding, enforceable standards that clearly outline and identify specifically what the federal government means by "Accessible" electronic and information technology products. The Access Board enlisted the help of government, academic, industry, and disability advocacy groups to create the EITAAC, or Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee. With the help of this committee the Access Board was able to create the first set of accessibility standards for Federal E&IT and publish them December 21, 2000.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990, is civil rights legislation governed by the Department of Justice. The goal of this law is to make sure that people with disabilities can have an equal opportunity to participate in programs, services, and activities. It is important to note that the ADA does not deal directly with the accessibility of the Internet. This may be due to the fact that the Internet was just emerging as a widespread tool around the same time as the passage of the ADA.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as amended in 1997, provides for a "Free appropriate public education" for all children with disabilities from preschool through high school. IDEA provides regulations, funding, and assistance to states for implementation. It also provides grants and activities in other areas such as research, personnel development, and early intervention. The Office of Special Education Programs in the US Department of Education administers IDEA. One of the ways a free appropriate public education is developed for students with disabilities is through a documented yearly process called the Individual Education Plan.

Other countries

We cannot cover all the countries having published laws related to accessibility. We recommend heading to WebAIM, a project maintained by the State University of Utah.