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>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.
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
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.
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.