It’s the Law
Many countries have laws that mandate accessibility at some level. Because of these laws, you may face loss of sales to both corporate and government customers if your product does not address these needs. In fact, as an employer you could be subject to lawsuits or fines.
Section 67(1)(k) of the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 requires any individual or organisation developing a World Wide Web page in Australia or placing or maintaining a web page on an Australian server to provide equal access for people with a disability. World Wide Web Access advisory notes empower the Human Rights Equal Opportunity Commission to issue guidelines for the purpose of avoiding discrimination.
Under objective 2c of the Europe Action Plan 2002 agreed by the Feira Council in June 2000. public sector web sites and their content in Member States and in the European institutions must be designed to be accessible to ensure that citizens with disabilities can access information and take full advantage of the potential for e-government. This action is to be executed by the European Institutions and the 15 European Union Member States through the Adoption of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Guidelines for public web sites by the end of 2001.
The UK Disability Discrimination Act (section 19 (3)) now obliges all companies and other service providers to make online information as accessible as ‘reasonably possible’. This legislation affects private and public sector alike, whether or not their Internet services are for profit.
Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act
In 1998, the US Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Recommendations are underway for Congressional action to require electronic and information technology access to the Legislative Branch.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d), as amended by the FY 2001 Appropriation for Military Construction (Public Law 106-246 — July 13, 2000)