Digital Accessibility Laws Around the Globe

Global Accessibility Awareness Day logo

[Last update [to France section] on February 5, 2021. [Previous update [to Japan section] on November 3, 2019 –Originally posted on May 9, 2013 (Global Accessibility Awareness Day). The list of digital accessibility laws and policies around the globe in this post is intended to serve as a resource only. It is not legal advice and it is not exhaustive. While frequently updated, it may not be current as of the date you are visiting this page. Please use the Contact Page on this website to let us know what is missing, what should be changed or included. This list is updated as new information becomes available.

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) also maintains a Web Accessibility Laws and Policies page.

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day (the 3rd Thursday of May) is a good day to become aware of laws around the globe that impact digital accessibility. Laws related to digital accessibility support and protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. Core components of life in the 21st century exist in the digital space, and without accessibility, basic human rights are diminished or completely denied.

These include the right to education, employment, public services, health care, financial privacy, community, travel and more. Laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities to access digital services and content — whether those services and content is found on the web, in a mobile application, through electronic kiosks or elsewhere — are an important piece of the puzzle that makes digital accessibility a reality.

Follow LFLegal on Twitter for updates about digital accessibility legal developments. (The Law Office of Lainey Feingold is counting on its international colleagues and Twitter followers for help in updating this list and keeping it current!)

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International Laws, Regulations and Treaties Impacting Digital Accessibility (Partial Listing)

United Nations Treaties

  • CRPD: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) is a comprehensive document ratified by over 140 countries, though not the United States. Article 9 of the CRPD, titled “Accessibility” recognizes the right of people with disabilities to full participation, including access to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems. Read the full CRPD. Read the post on this website about how the United States senate failed to ratify the CRPD in 2012. Shamefully, as of July 1, 2018, the CRPD is still not ratified by the U.S.
  • WIPO: In June, 2013, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations agency, adopted a landmark treaty to advance the right to read for people who are blind or otherwise print-disabled. Read the WIPO press release about adoption of the Treaty. The treaty, officially known as the “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled” eliminates copyright roadblocks that have created an international “book famine” for those who need alternative formats to standard print information. Read the post on this website about the WIPO Treaty.

Argentina

In November 2010 the Argentine National Congress approved Law No. 26,653 requiring accessibility of information on web pages. Read the Argentinian web accessibility law (Spanish).

Australia and New Zealand

Thank you to Jesse Sookne for 2019 updates about New Zealand web standards. Thanks to Andrew Arch for July 2017 and August 2019 information about Australian standards.

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Brazil

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Canada

National
Provincial Laws and Policies
  • In the Canadian province of Ontario, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) covers provincially-regulated public and private activities and standards have been enacted for the provision of accessible Information and Communications. Read the April 2014 A Guide to the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation. The law is notable as it carries a $100,000.00 fine for corporations that fail to comply, although there has been recent criticism that the law is not being effectively enforced. There were five original standards: Customer Service, Information and Communication, Employment, Transportation and Design of Public Spaces. A Health Care standard was added in 2016/17, and an Education standard was proposed in mid 2017.
  • Also in Ontario, Ontario Human Rights Code covers provincially-regulated activities.
  • In the Canadian province of Manitoba, the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) became law in 2013. It focuses on barriers for people with disabilities, not general human rights. The legislation applies to both the public and private sectors, and there are rolling timelines for different sectors.It is made up of five standards, covering the areas of customer service, employment, information and communication, transportation and the built environment. The customer service standard was enacted in 2016, the employment standard is expected to be enacted in 2017 and the information and communications standard is being worked on as of mid 2017. The Province of Manitoba Disabilities Issues Office (DIO) supports the legislation
  • In the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, the Accessibility Act (Bill 59) became law in 2017. It focuses on barriers for people with disabilities, not general human rights. The legislation will apply to both the public and private sectors, and there will be rolling timelines for different sectors. It is made up of six standards, covering the areas of the delivery and receipt of goods and services, employment, information and communication, public transportation and transportation infrastructure, education and the built environment. The Province of Nova Scotia has launched the Nova Scotia Accessibility Directorate with resources and information about the Act.Thank you to Jesse Sookne for updates about the 2019 Canada Accessibility Act.Thank you to Lisa Snider from Access Changes Everything for the July 2017 update to this Canadian information. Thanks to Jan Richards for providing the original information.  Thank you to Carolyn MacLeod for 2018 updates. Another great resource for Canadian accessibility information, particularly about AODA and national developments is David Lepofsky.
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Denmark

  • In Denmark, the Agency for Digitisation (the “Digitatliseringsstyrelsen” in Danish) under the Danish Ministry of Finance handles certain tasks relating to IT accessibility in the public sector. This is done in “KIA”, their “IT For All Competency Center”. They provide information and counsel to government agencies and suppliers concerning the compliance and implementation of the international guidelines for accessibility on the Web – WCAG – which, in Denmark, acts as a compulsory open standard for public authorities. Other tasks include analysis and focus on IT accessibility in projects under the common eGovernment Strategy 2011-2015. There are three theme areas on the site: Toolbox [templates, guides, tutorials, etc. about web accessibility]; Analyses, studies, and surveys; Standards, requirements and recommendations. More information in Danish on the Agency for Digitisation website. Thank you Karen Mardahl for the English synopsis above, based on this site.

European Union

[Note: this category is for the European Union itself. Countries within the European Union listed in their appropriate place in alphabetic order elsewhere on this list]

France

Article 47 in Law n°2005-102 for equal rights and opportunities, participation and citizenship of disabled people – Last modification: July 24, 2019

This article is divided into 4 major points:

  1. The online public communication services of a large number of organizations (in particular public organizations, organizations delegated with a public service mission, private organizations with revenues exceeding 250 million euros) must be accessible to disabled people.
  2. The accessibility obligation applies to all type of digital media.
  3. Obligation to publish an accessibility statement, to draw up a multi-year plan (3 years maximum) for making services accessible and an action plan for the current year.
  4. Obligation to display the level of compliance with accessibility rules on the home page, to provide easy access to the documents mentioned in the previous point, and to make it possible to report accessibility problems. Failure to comply with this obligation and failure to bring a service into compliance is punishable up to €20,000 per site and per year (amount fixed in the decree).

The law contains exceptions (such as the disproportionate cost for certain contents and functionalities) that the decree n°2019-768 defines.

A decree is still awaited for:

  • Defining the accessibility reference document to implement accessibility requirements. However, the RGAA (Référentiel Général d’Amélioration de l’Accessibilité) was updated in September 2019 to comply with WCAG 2.1.
  • Defining the communication methods of the accessibility statement to the administration via a teleservice.
  • Defining the method for annual monitoring of the concerned services and defining the content of the report to be provided to the European Commission by December 23, 2021 at the latest and then every three years.

Article L5213-6 in the Labor Code, sub-section 1: Rights and guarantees for disabled workers – Last modification: August 8, 2019

Code du travail, Sous-section 1 : Droits et garanties des travailleurs handicapés, Article L5213-6, modified by Law n°2016-1088 of August 8, 2016 – art. 56 (V), Version in effect as of August 8, 2019

The employer shall ensure that software installed on the workstation of disabled people and necessary for their professional practice is accessible. The employer shall also ensure that the workstation of disabled people is accessible for remote working.

But there is an exception if there is a disproportionate cost in spite of the planned aid for employers…

Law n°86-1067 relating to the freedom of communication (Léotard Law) – Last modification: December 24, 2020 (upcoming changes in 2021) – it’s about television

Loi n° 86-1067 du 30 septembre 1986 relative à la liberté de communication (Loi Léotard)

The audiovisual council (Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel, CSA) shall ensure the accessibility of television and on-demand audiovisual media services programs to disabled people and make an annual report.

A convention must define the proportion of programs to be made accessible to deaf or hard of hearing people and blind or visually impaired people. If the average annual audience exceeds 2.5% of the total audience for television services, the obligation applies.

Public channels, with some exceptions, adapt all television programmes for deaf or hard of hearing people.

Services for the deaf or hard of hearing people and blind or visually impaired people associated with the programmes of television services are provided free of charge.

Thank you to Julie Moynat, French web accessibility consultant, for providing this information about French accessibility laws in January 2021. Learn more about Julie on her website.

Holland

Information about Holland listed under The Netherlands, below.

Iceland

On October 5th, 2012, the Icelandic government officially declared that it intends to enact legislation requiring public sector websites to be WCAG 2.0 AA compliant by January 1, 2015. The details of the legislation are being worked on, and the over-all state of accessibility in Iceland will be assessed in the Fall of 2013 as part of the government plans for the Icelandic Information Society 2013 – 2016. Read the English translation of the Icelandic announcement regarding the policy and legislation. You can also read the announcement in Icelandic.

Thank you Birkir Gunnarsson for providing the information posted here and for generously agreeing to serve as a contact person for those interested in learning more about digital accessibility in Iceland.

India

Israel

Thank you Zvia Admon who generously provided the following information in February 2021 about digital accessibility law and policy in Israel.

The Israeli accessibility regulations were amended in 2017 to require web accessibility in all services provided over the internet. Both private and public entities providing services online are required to apply Internet Accessibility Standard (Israel Standard 5668), which has adopted WCAG 2.0. The regulations apply to both websites, at AA level, and to applications and to digital documents uploaded after Oct 2017. Personal information – such as bank client’s statements – is to be made accessibly by 2022. Accessible websites and apps are required to include an accessibility statement.

Captions are required for time-based media (Level A) uploaded after 2017. However, only public authorities and large-scale private businesses have to provide them. In addition, lectures, conferences and similar events presented online, may offer a text document as alternative to online accommodations. Services provided or promoted through social media are required to use the accessibility features offered by the platforms. Websites which host third-party content have to provide accessibility options, such as alt text descriptions for images.

Small businesses may be granted an exemption, limited to 3 years. Exemptions may also be granted to any service, if the accommodations are technically impossible. The regulations are enforced both administratively, by the Commission on Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities – a government agency – and through civil legal proceedings.

Resources (in Hebrew) about Israeli accessibility policy

Norway

For information on the laws supporting web and kiosk accessibility in Norway see this helpful article written by Ida Aalen: It’s illegal to have an inaccessible website in Norway — and that’s good news for all of us. The article includes useful links to further information (in English) about the country’s laws and regulations for accessible information technology. Those laws address both public and private websites as well as self-service machines.

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Japan

  • Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) 8341-3 became identical to ISO/IEC 40500:2012(Web Content Accessibilty Guidelines 2.0). The current version is JIS X 8341-3:2016 (Japanese). JIS X 8341-3:2016 has exactly the same success criteria as WCAG 2.0. WAIC (Web Accessibility Infrastructure Committee in Japan) was in charge of the update of JIS X 8341-3. Makoto Ueki was chairman of WAIC and of the JIS update working group. JIS standards can be updated every five years and JIS X 8341-3 is scheduled for update in 2021.
  • The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has encouraged public sectors websites to conform to Level AA of JIS X 8341-3:2016, which is equal to Level AA of WCAG 2.0, by the end of March 2018. Public sectors include ministries, local governments and independent administrative agencies.
  • Japan has the “Act for Eliminating Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities” which came into force in April 1, 2016. The basic policy of the law was endorsed by the Japanese Cabinet in February, 2015. The policy refers to “information accessibility” and the term includes web content. The basic policy of the law strongly encourages organizations to make their information (including web content) accessible. Read a news article in English about Japan’s 2016 Disability Discrimination Act.

Thank you Makoto Ueki for providing November 2019 updated information about accessibility policy in Japan.

The Netherlands (Holland)

These sites, maintained by the Dutch government, have guidelines on designing, building, and maintaining websites. The initiative was originally aimed at all federal websites and uses open standards. Note that the English version is not updated as often as the Dutch site.

Philippines

Sweden

In May, 2017 self-identified “digital generalist” Mischa Andrews wrote a very helpful post about accessibility laws in Sweden. As Mischa writes, “Ultimately, this is about human rights – it’s about access. Even if it weren’t the law, it’s work that’s well worth doing.”

Switzerland

United Kingdom

United States

The digital accessibility legal landscape is flourishing in the United States. Significant strides towards full inclusion of people with disabilities in the digital world have been made as a result of grassroots advocacy, litigation by both private parties and the federal government, Structured Negotiation, and successful administrative complaints involving the United States Department of Justice, United States Department of Education. You can keep up with these developments in the Legal Update articles on this website.

All of these legal advocacy efforts are grounded in a robust and diverse amalgam of state and federal laws and regulations recognizing the civil rights of people with disabilities to participate in the digital world. Here is a sampling of those laws:

Other Resources About United States Legal Advocacy

    • An overview of the recent U.S. digital accessibility legal landscape can be found in the legal update topic on this website.
    • Using the collaborative process of Structured Negotiations, many of the largest entities in the United States have committed to various aspects of digital accessibility. Visit the Web and Mobile Accessibility Press Release Category on this website for a summary of all press releases announcing web accessibility settlements, with links to the full releases and settlements.
    • The most recent significant court ruling in the United States about web accessibility came in June, 2012 when a federal court in Massachusetts ruled that the ADA covered Netflix’ streaming video service. Read the post about the Netflix decision.
    • Pending litigation on the accessibility of digital books involving copyright issues could change the landscape for readers with print disabilities around the world. Read about the Google Book litigation, currently on appeal in the federal court system.
    • The Talking ATM Category on this website has extensive information about the accessibility of ATMs, including press releases, settlement agreements, history and international installations of this type of accessible digital technology.