Accessibility and the Law

First, this guide primarily cover accessibility regulations and United States Federal Law. Other countries have different laws, and individual states might have additional requirements beyond Federal law. Also, this document covers these laws at a very high level and only highlights portions of each law.

The applicable laws regarding Web accessibility are as follows.

  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (This is not covered in this document and does not impact the U.S because the U.S. has not ratified it, but it has been ratified by 129 other countries.)

What laws apply to me

Each of the subsequent pages in this section gives more specifics on the applicability of these laws, but in short, in light of actions from the Access Board and the Department of Justice, all institutions, both public and private, should plan on providing equitable access to their services and conform to WCAG 2 Level AA conformance. The two recent actions are as follows.

  • The Access Board is currently updating Section 508 to be more in line with the requirements of WCAG 2, Level AA Conformance.
  • The Department of Justice is currently updating the Americans with Disabilities Act to explicitly require all Title II and Title III entities to provide accessible Web presences and conform to standards equivalent to WCAG 2 Level AA conformance.

Currently there are different interpretations of what laws apply to who, and there are not clear standards defined for how each law defines what is technically accessible. However, as just stated both laws are converging on the WCAG 2 Level AA conformance, and the way the laws are being written they will apply to virtually every institution.

Further Reading