Effective March 15th, 2011 Web Accessibility has the force of law and is no longer just a set of guidelines and an Internet Initiative.
What this means is that infractions are being referred to the US Department of Justice, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section just as they would if they were fair housing or such complaints. That is because fairness and accessibility are guaranteed human rights violation that affect a class of persons as easily if they were racial, gender, sexual or other kinds of discrimination. Web Accessibility is the law.
Web Accessibility began as the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of W3.org
WAI answers the three basic questions:
- Why: The Case for Web Accessibility
Equal access and opportunity are recognized as basic human rights.
These are not just US laws, they are defined by the United Nations as Human Rights Violations. That may seem extreme, but when you design a web page it can be read around the world by billions of people. Currently around 10 per cent of the total world’s population, or roughly 650 million people, live with a disability, including millions that struggle daily with blindness, hearing disabled and physically disabled that can’t use mouse or keyboard. Some people this is the only way they can communicate with the world. This may include people who are elderly, or live in rural and/or developing nations.
- What: Examples of Web Accessibility
Alternative text is the classic example of web accessibility, although it is not limited to that. Images should include equivalent alternative text in the markup/code.Mouse is another example. All functions must also be available through the keyboard. In addition assistive technology must be available for those that can’t use the keyboard and rely on speech to text processors etc.
Transcripts for Podcasts is the third example. Many can’t hear audio or see video so transcript services make them accessible.
- How: Make your Website and Web Tools Accessible
An introduction to web accessibility can be found at W3.org/WAI
The latest in-depth WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Sept, 2013Summary: Accessibility is essential for developers and organizations that want to create high quality websites and web tools, and not exclude people from using their products and services.