This page is work in progress and last updated on: 4th July, 2010 at 18:38 Hrs (IST)
Primarily, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 is the current recommendation of World Wide Web Consortium .
An introduction to WCAG:
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 defines how to make Web content more accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility involves a wide range of disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological disabilities. Although these guidelines cover a wide range of issues, they are not able to address the needs of people with all types, degrees, and combinations of disability. These guidelines also make Web content more usable by older individuals with changing abilities due to aging and often improve usability for users in general.
Some of the countries have adopted WCAG and made their own set of guidelines to suit their requirements. Some of them are:
- Guidelines for Indian Government Websites
- Section 508 of American Disability Act
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) . Some info on Web Accessibility section of DDA:
The section III of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) which came into force on 1st October 1999 refer to accessible websites, specifically since 27th May 2002 when the Code of Practice for this section of the DDA was published. This means web pages are practically part of the DDA since 2002, for 8 years now!
specifically this paragraphs in the Code of Practice show the need for accessible web pages for being compliant with the DDA:
2.2 (p7): “The Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public.”
4.7 (p39): “From 1st October 1999 a service provider has to take reasonable steps to change a practice which makes it unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of its services.”
2.13 – 2.17 (p11-13): “What services are affected by the Disability Discrimination Act? An airline company provides a flight reservation and booking service to the public on its website. This is a provision of a service and is subject to the act.”
5.23 (p71): “For people with visual impairments, the range of auxiliary aids or services which it might be reasonable to provide to ensure that services are accessible might include … accessible websites.”
5.26 (p68): “For people with hearing disabilities, the range of auxiliary aids or services which it might be reasonable to provide to ensure that services are accessible might include … accessible websites.”
Based on the code of practice we have the guide to good practice in commissioning accessible websites since 2006 called “PAS 78″. PAS 78 will become the BS 8878:2010. At the end of last month there was the end of call for comments. This will even be more specific on the new British Standard.
It’s only a matter of time to have an exact definition of accessible web pages based on a British Standard according to the DDA. Before everyone was assuming it is WCAG 1.0 or WCAG 2.0 AA compliance. For someone ordering web pages they at least could use PAS 78 until now.
Additionally there are even stronger employer rights in the DDA. That means employers have to provide reasonable adjustments for internal tools. That means that tools used internally by employees must be accessible. Otherwise it could discriminate employees or applicants with a disability. I personally would grade this part of the DDA even stronger than the one for public pages.
You have something similar for employees with disabilities in Germany. The law is called SGB IX and is in – if I remember right – in §81: Duties of an employer.
Thanks to a friend for contribution.
- World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes from Australian Human Rights Commission