It is not a simple yes or no question as it depends on a lot of factors like the core purpose of the website, who runs it, and the country it is used in. Though the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the universally accepted standards to be followed on the web, it is not a global law followed in every country. Countries like the United States of America do have accessibility-related laws, but there are no dedicated laws when it comes to the web. So in this blog, we will explore the various Web Accessibility Laws around the world to see how WCAG non-compliance can end up becoming a punishable offense.
The Web Accessibility Laws in Different Regions
So if you are located in the U.S and if the website belongs to a federal agency or their contractors, those websites must comply with WCAG 2.0. But if the website belongs to a private business, the website definitely has to be accessible as per the ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires every place of public accommodation to be accessible in terms of infrastructure (Wheel Chair accessible Entry elevators, and so on). Though websites do come under this category as a place of public accommodation as the users do visit the website to obtain information, make a purchase, and perform such activities, there are no defined guidelines or standards that the websites have to adhere to.
Likewise, if you are in countries like Canada, New Zealand, or Australia, only government sites have to meet the WCAG guidelines. There are no defined standards for public sites with a few exceptions in certain areas. Argentina requires their public sites to be compliant with WCAG 1.0 and Ecuador’s public sites have to comply with WCAG 2.0. The European Union is where we can find the best Accessibility standards. They have created the Web Accessibility Directive which is in many ways similar to WCAG 2.0. It even has a few additional requirements where users should be able to report such issues, and so on. Though it was initially launched with only government sites to be compliant in 2016, by 2018 even public websites have been instructed to meet the standards.
There are also numerous countries that do not have any prominent Web Accessibility Laws. But if you are running a business website, it is always better to have a site that is accessible as there is always a possibility of getting sued by the consumer.
The Case against Dominos
Companies have been sued in the past for having inaccessible websites and apps. For example, Domino’s was sued by a visually impaired man when he was unable to order pizza from their website despite using a Screen Reader. Despite the case being very strong on the plaintiff’s side, it took more than 3 years for the judgment to come through. The court ruled Dominos’ website to be inaccessible and ordered them to meet the compliance. But the real question here is why would Dominos fight the case instead of just making their website accessible.
The Business Angle
Any company that doesn’t consider people with disabilities as viable customers are missing out on a lot of business. According to a report by Forbes, 1 in every 4 Americans have some form of disability, and about 57 million Americans have a disability that hinders their ability to view and use online services. In the digital age we live in, it wouldn’t be wise to leave out such a huge part of the population assuming it is not essential. But beyond the business aspect
So it is evident that the Web Accessibility Laws are different in different areas of the world. But what if you have a website that functions on a global scale? The only solution here would be to have your website meet the highest standards of accessibility so that you wouldn’t have to worry about any disputes. You could achieve this goal by outsourcing the task to one of the best web accessibility testing service providers like us. If we do take a look at it beyond the business aspect, fulfilling the rights of people with disabilities should be a moral responsibility that shouldn’t be overlooked.