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Laws that support an accessible Web

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Laws that support an accessible Web. Cyndi Rowland, Ph.D. Director, WebAIM Center for Persons with Disabilities, Utah State University April 16, 2002.

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WebAIM is Supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Learning Anytime Anywhere Program through the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) department No official endorsement is inferred.

our brief time today
Our Brief Time Today
  • Legal picture of Web access
  • Question and answers on the law
summary of the law
Summary of the Law
  • Rehabilitation Act (Sec 504 & 508)
  • ADA of 1990
    • see 28 C.F.R. Part 35
    • Dept of Justice ruling (9/9/96): ADA accessibility requirements apply to Internet web pages (10 NDLR 240)
  • Telecommunications Act (see Sec 255)
  • Responses from U.S. Dept of Ed, OCR (see docket numbers 09-95-2206; 09-97-2002)
section 504 of the rehabilitation act

Higher Education:

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

“ no otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . Shall, solely by reason of his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. . .” (29 U.S.C. Section 794)

under section 504 be cautious of post hoc accommodation

Under Section 504:Be cautious of post-hoc accommodation

Courts have ruled against

this practice

took effect june 21 2001

Federal Government:

Section 508of the Rehabilitation Act of 1997 provides the legislative language for accessible electronic information technology, including the Internet

Took effect: June 21, 2001

why is sec 508 such a big deal
Why is Sec 508 such a big deal?
  • Provides the first federal definition of “Internet accessibility”
  • Provides compliance language that could be monitored at a distance
  • State government could be held accountable under the Tech Act

Assistive Technology Act of 1998 places the responsibility of “assuring” 508 compliance with any state that accepts these monies

If applicable, this would include all state governmental entities

(higher education?)

Department of Education is supposed to clarify applicability

exceptions to section 508
Exceptions to Section 508
  • Undue Burden
  • Fundamental alteration
  • National security
americans with disabilities act of 1990
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • ADA does not use the word “Internet” in its statutory language
  • Many believe it will be covered. The central issues surround 2 points:
    • “Effective Communication”
    • “Public accommodation”
  • Federal Court rulings have not yet been handed down (out of court settlements)
summary of applicable laws
Summary of Applicable Laws
  • Federal government YES (Section 508)
    • MAYBE (ADA)
  • State governments
    • MAYBE (Section 508 because of Tech Act)
    • MAYBE (ADA)
  • Higher education YES (Section 504 of Rehab Act)
    • MAYBE (Section 508 because of Tech Act)
    • MAYBE (ADA)
  • General public
    • MAYBE (ADA)

Many institutions, agencies, & organizations wish to have a global audience.Be aware that we have limited our discussion to U.S. Law

To see accessibility policies around the world go to