Guidelines and laws
There are many initiatives around the world that standardise, legalise and promote web accessibility. The W3C and the united states government were the primary organisations to start the movement.
Below you can find some of the primary global and governmental guidelines.
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
The W3C is the international agency with the authority to create standardsfor the web. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) work group introduced 3 levels of accessibility: A, AA and AAA. Website owners and content suppliers can be awarded labels to affirm their level of conformity to the Accessibility Guidelines. A new version of these guidelines, the WCAG 2.0, was updated in December 2008.
“Enable” is the convention of rights for the handicapped adopted on December 13, 2006 by the United Nations. The purpose of this convention is to defend the rights of the disabled. It addresses accessibility in the broad sense and in particualr for the web. “It is the first great treaty of the 21st century as regards human rights”
Thanks to an European project where many organisations collaborate specializing in the Web, a European label was set up. It does not act as a provider of a label of accessibility for the Web but rather of as a complementary label to that delivered by a web accessibility certification body. It is based on:
- The international recommendations of the W3C
- The European Methodology for Accessiblity (UWEM)
- The process for control and of conformity ( CEN Workshop Agreement).
- Euracert label
The law on equality for the handicapped was put in place on January 1, 2004. This law, now called “P028 – Directives of the the Confederation for the installation of easily accessible Internet sites”, mentions that all the public sites must now at least reach the level of AA of the W3C, with special attention to the accessibility of PDF documents.
- In French: “Directives de la Confédération pour l’aménagement de sites Internet facilement accessibles”
In February 2005, France put into place a law imposing the conformity of the government websites with the international accessibility standards.
The law of February 25, 2003, known as ” Anti-discrimination Law”, prohibited the discrimination which relates to “the creation of goods or services at the disposal of the public”. It specifically states that the absence of reasonable adjustments for handicapped people constitutes a discrimination within the meaning of the present law.
In May 2000, the ministers of the Council of the Treasury of Canada approved the Common Look and Feel (CLF) standards for the Internet and imposed that all the institutions concerned by Parts 1.1.1 and 2 of the Law on the management of public finances should conform to them by December 31, 2002.
In the United States, the political awakening and the laws which resulted from this were earlier than in Europe. At the end of 1998, the Rehabilitation Act required Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. “Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual’s ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily.” This set in motion compliance down to the community level along with the public service sector, such as health and hospitals.