Use the arrow keys to navigate between menu items.

Just like gravity

2 minutes read

Did you know there are over 20 pieces of legislation around the world that directly or indirectly deal with accessibility?

The oldest one is from 1948. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes fundamental human rights. We think of this as the foundation of international human rights law and many other treaties and national laws built upon it. However, the declaration doesn't directly mention people with disabilities.

The first piece of legislation to do so is the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (commonly known as the CRPD). The convention declares and grants equal rights for people with disabilities and imposes on governments obligations to guarantee the rights of people with disabilities in all areas of life, including communication, health care, accessing information and information technology, transportation and public spaces and to ensure all participation in social, economic, educational, political, cultural and legal activities. It also makes direct reference to digital accessibility.

Since then, countries around the world have created their own laws to fight exclusion, reduce discrimination and raise awareness. The United States has the ADA and Section 508. The European Union has EN 301 549 and the European Accessibility Act. Japan, Africa, the U.K., Canada, Australia - they all have implemented legislation.

Some are civil rights laws, applying to all private citizens and all entities in the private sector. Others apply to the federal and state government entities. You also have legislation for procuring technologies, which specifically spell out standards and requirements for purchasing. These requirements also specifically address accessibility (both Europe and the U.S. have them).

Why am I writing about all these laws?

It's not just about avoiding lawsuits or fines (though those are good motivators). When you design with accessibility in mind, you're not just accommodating a niche group; you're creating a better experience for everyone. And that's the kind of world we should be striving for.

Accessibility is like gravity. Not just a good idea, it’s the law.

Did you enjoy this bite-sized message?

I send out short emails like this every day to help you gain a fresh perspective on accessibility and understand it without the jargon, so you can build more robust products that everyone can use, including people with disabilities.

You can unsubscribe in one click and I will never share your email address.