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New website laws for users with disabilities

 10:09 am on Oct 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

I just read in one of those eNewslettrs for web design that there will be:

'..new laws requiring sites to be accessible to users with disabilities'.

Does anyone know about this?
- Is it true?
- What are the laws?
- Where do they apply?



 12:57 pm on Oct 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

>Is it true?
Yes (US)

>What are the laws?
I'm very sketchy on details, but I believe one of the requirements was using descriptive text in the ALT tag, though I'm sure it goes much further than that.

>Where do they apply?
Governmental sites are supposed to comply. I'm not sure how far it applies to the private sector.


 2:51 pm on Oct 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

Here's an interesting page about how disability access applies to a law firm's website. It goes some distance into interpreting the existing laws and who they apply to. It's a bit old, but it's a start and it has some good links.


Another good source:



 8:36 pm on Oct 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

Wow, what a concept! Bad web designers could actually do jail time! Maybe there will even be a whistleblower bounty paid to those who turn in non-compliant sites... I'm starting my list now.


 9:12 pm on Oct 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

Here is a site that tells us what needs to be fixed on our sites to make them more accessible.


(edited by: Son_House at 9:36 pm (gmt) on Oct. 11, 2001)


 9:24 pm on Oct 11, 2001 (gmt 0)

>Bad web designers could actually do jail time!

Sounds good to me, include the SE's in that too though. I would *love* to make my sites more accessable to all users but the fear of getting penalised for dupe content prevents me.


 6:25 am on Oct 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

Don't be discouraged by Bobby results, Priority 1 changes are all that most sites will need.
That's mostly JS alternatives and good Alt tags.


 11:08 am on Oct 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

Does anyone know if laws will affect UK sites???

I'm all for easy access. e.g
- not using Frames
- Good alt tags, with key words :)
- Plenty of helpful text
- ...


 12:00 pm on Oct 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

What are those laws going to do with all the home-made jobbies on the net, where the site publishers don't even know HTML? Some even use MS Publisher for their sites.

It would take an astronomical amount of money to police and enforce it; I can't imagine how it could possibly be universally applied. What would happen with all the sites on Geocities, for example? Close all of Geocities down, or force them to enforce it themselves?

What will they do with pages in the Google cache that don't comply?

(edited by: Marcia at 12:01 pm (gmt) on Oct. 12, 2001)


 12:00 pm on Oct 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

>>>Sounds good to me, include the SE's in that too though.

Altavista will be the first one to go. Especially after what they preach on the their site for what others should be doing, yet they do not do it themselves.

Your rule of thumb should be to have at least one full set of your content available in a form that the blind can read. The blind are some of the best users of the Internet today. They use text-only browsers and text-to-voice converters, and they are able to navigate very well unless people put up barriers. The same kinds of barriers that stop the blind also stop Web crawlers. Label pictures clearly with ALT text in the background, to explain what a sighted person would see. And by designing your site to accommodate the needs of search engine crawlers you will also probably make sure that your site complies with the provisions and the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Check your sites for disabled access with Bobby.



 1:25 pm on Oct 12, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> What are those laws going to do with all the home-made jobbies on the net

The laws will probably be enforced like other ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) infractions -- when someone sues. Proactive enforcement just isn't practical. The first question to ask would be: Is the site owner a "covered entity"? And after that, how likely is a lawsuit?

Lots of small retail business in the US have had to invest in wheel chair ramps, etc. The web should be the same.


 12:35 am on Oct 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

There is a Section 508 [gcn.com] standard which applies to Federal government sites and require them to be accessible to people with disabilities.

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