Web accessibility impacts millions of people but the laws governing accessibility aren't always understood or followed. Learn more about what it means.

How to Create Accessible Websites in Compliance with Federal Laws

Wed Apr 23, 2014

Web accessibility impacts millions of people in the United States and globally because organizations struggle with delivering accessible websites. While there are laws mandating accessibility for the public sector including government and education websites, currently in the US there are no laws governing accessibility for corporate websites. However, suit after suit, like the Federal lawsuit against Netflix, The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) suits versus Target, H&R Block and the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), continue to make web accessibility headline news.

What Is Web Accessibility?

For those who are new to Web accessibility, the term refers to the inclusive practice of designing websites so “people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web” as explained by the W3C. For example, a blind user cannot see an image on a web site so the use of alternative text that provides a written description of the image allows them experience the content as a sighted used would with the help of a screen reader.

The development of clear standards and guidelines for accessible Web design from organizations such as the W3C has made it easier for any organization to create accessible websites. And given the importance of the internet in modern life, if you own, run, or contribute to a website then you need to be thinking about Web accessibility.

What Laws Govern Web Accessibility?

There are a variety of modern laws and voluntary standards that govern accessibility in the U.S. alone. The following provides a list of the different laws and standards that apply in the U.S.:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Section 504
  • Section 508
  • WCAG 2.0
  • Industry-specific regulations such as HHS Incentives and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

Web accessibility regulations can be confusing. While requirements for the US public sector are very clear, this is not the case when it comes to private organizations. There is an increasing trend to carry government mandates for accessibility over to the private sector as well, and recent litigation that leans towards treating public-facing websites the same as any brick and mortar business.

Partnering to Simplify Web Accessibility Compliance

Earlier this week, HiSoftware and Percussion Software announced our strategic technology alliance. The partnership allows Percussion to offer HiSoftware products to its customers, providing complete solutions for ensuring content created in the WCM system is accessible.

Building best practices for accessibility into the development lifecycle is the key to making sure your content starts and stays compliant. Pairing Percussion and HiSoftware’s products together make it easy to create quality websites and reap the benefits of increased reach and minimized risk.

Ken Nakata Headshot
Ken Nakata
Director of Accessibility Practice for Hi Software

Ken Nakata is one of the most well-known attorneys in the area of IT accessibility. His work focusses on Web and software accessibility from both a legal and technical perspective. Nakata's team helps organizations manage the change towards accessibility in all aspects, providing consulting services aimed at shaping their accessibility policies and practices, and evaluating the overall state of their Web properties, leveraging HiSoftware's accessibility solutions.