Web Accessibility Facts & Figures
Laws | Lawsuits
What's the Law?
In 1998, Congress amended the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 with Section
508, which requires that individuals with disabilities, who are members
of the public seeking information or services from a federal agency, have
access to and use of information and data that is comparable to that provided
to the public who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue
burden would be imposed on the agency.
The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board)
published Web accessibility standards for
compliance with Section 508 on Dec. 21, 2000. The enforcement date of the standards
is June 21, 2001. Anyone with a disability who does not have "comparable
access to and use of information and data" on a federal agency Web site
may file a complaint or civil action against the federal department or agency
that has not complied.
504 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 mandates that institutions
receiving federal funds provide equal access to their programs. Many state-funded
public universities receive Assistive Technology grants, which the Department
of Education claims makes them accountable to the Web accessibility standards
set forth in Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Already lawsuits have been filed against various non-Federal agencies using
the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA). In a 1996 statement, the Department of Justice stated that the
ADA will cover government entities on the Internet as well as those providers
whose services are deemed to be "public accommodations."
More Information on Laws:
Section 504 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Establishes that disability rights are a form of civil rights and therefore
covered by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
- Mandates that institutions receiving federal funds provide equal access
to their programs.
- Uses total institutional budget (not just the computing area's budget)
in measuring the "reasonableness" of required accommodations for accessibility.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- Wide-ranging legislation intended to make American society more accessible
to people with disabilities.
- Extends the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to all public
and commercial facilities, with few exceptions, not just those that receive
- Requires that every institution receiving federal funds establish and maintain
a plan of compliance.
Attorney General's Office -- in April 2000, the
National Federation for the Blind (NFB) filed an Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) lawsuit against the Connecticut Attorney General's Office, which
provided links to four
inaccessible online tax filing services on
its Internal Revenue Service's official Web site.
The four tax filing services (Intuit, HDVest, H&R Block, and CioCia) voluntarily
agreed to begin making their Web sites accessible to the sight-impaired in
time for the next tax season.
of America -- in March 2000, an Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) agreement was reached between the California Council for the
Blind and Bank of America to install 2,500 talking Automatic Teller Machines
(ATMs) in Florida and California and to ensure its Web sites and online
banking services are accessible to people using screen-readers.
Online -- In November 1999, the National Federation for the
Blind (NFB) filed an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit against
America Online (AOL) after AOL failed to alter its inaccessible software
to allow compatibility with screen readers.
According to an agreement on July 26, 2000, between the NFB and AOL, AOL will
continue its existing efforts to ensure that the next version of AOL's software
(AOL 6.0) is compatible with screen reader assistive technology which makes
it accessible to blind users. AOL plans to release the new AOL 6.0 software
in fall 2000.
NFB has the right to renew their ADA action against AOL and may do so as early
as July 26, 2001. Therefore, the agreement should not be regarded as a settlement.