The Education and Out Reach Group of W3C WAI has published an update on the laws and policies governing accessibility and disability through-out the globe. This accessibility legal and policy information is important for accessibility enthusiasts to understand and digest how the world is moving towards inclusive web. I have tried analyzing the phase in which digital accessibility is progressing through this article. Section 508 refresh in the US, EUWeb & mobile directive and Right to persons with disabilities Act 2016(PDF) in India are few legal and policy updates worth noting. This is on the progressive side.
In this legal and policy page, the laws, Mandatory policies, policies, and Procurement laws of 18 countries including few from European Union are updated. As I do a quick search on internet there are 247 countries in the world. I just want to leave the rest to be thought by the readers. I am not concerned about the statistics of the countries but deeply concerned about the people with disabilities who live in the country where the laws and policies are not in place. I am bothered about the people with disabilities who live in the countries where laws and policies are on books but not in reality. Is the globe moving positively in the phase it need to be?
Being in the digital accessibility space for nearly a decade now I have seen a massive change in the way people consume the content or the way people interact with the web. The mobile era has completely changed how people use digital content, web technologies are hitting the market faster than a new recipe, but the awareness, learning and implementation of accessibility is not moving in the phase it should be. The newer markup languages like HTML5 and accessibility technologies like WAI ARIA are bringing accessibility lives to many digital products but this cannot be fulfilled until the designers, content authors, developers and test engineers understand how important is it to provide accessible content. Most of these groups create accurately marked up and accessible digital content only when the laws or policies mandate them or when the vender / client pays for it.
So if governments make a policy mandate, do you think the digital content that is under the jurisdiction of the policy will be made accessible? The term Mandatory policy is defined as “Required accessibility goals or implementation that is not regulated by law”, At W3C WAI Web Accessibility Laws and Policies page. As per this page Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW) is a mandatory policy recommended in 2009, however a news article recently reveals that only 38 among 7000 government websites are accessible. So are the laws and policies sufficient to make digital space an inclusive one?
Being a passionate accessibility consultant and beneficiary of accessible digital content I on behalf of Maxability urge designers, content authors and developers to keep accessibility and the needs of persons with disabilities in mind while creating websites, mobile apps and other digital products. The governing bodies of the law and implementers of the policies must take digital accessibility as a critical aspect. We at Maxability are always open to contribute to an accessible digital world.