Web accessibility: Legal implications of your website not complying.


Web accessibility: Legal implications of your website not complying.

In the previous post: Web accessibility: Designing websites that can be used by everyone I introduced you to web accessibility. We talked about what it means and touched on the importance of making sure our websites are accessible to everyone. It is the right thing to do both from an ethical point of view as well as a business point of view.

However, there are also legal implications in many countries. Most first world countries have legislation in place to ensure businesses make it as easy as possible for everyone to use the internet successfully:

The UK Equality Act 2010

Under UK law, organizations have a legal responsibility to ensure their website is accessible to people with a disability. As the standard for web accessibility in the UK is WCAG 2.1 Level AA, your website should align with its requirements for web accessibility.  The accessibility regulations came into force for public sector bodies on 23 September 2018. Actual enforcement of the law falls under the Equality and Human Rights Commission (except in Northern Ireland). It has the power to investigate non-compliant organizations and initiate legal action against them.

The European Accessibility Act

“As of 28 June 2025, customers will be able to file complaints before national courts or authorities if services or products do not respect the new rules.” 

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

“Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act enacted by Congress, prohibits discrimination against people based on their disability.”

ADA outlines that any person or organization must make their website readily accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities.

South Africa

Local Web accessibility regulations remain unclear as government has not tabled specific web accessibility legislation, however the rest of the world is very clear on the issue and if you have a website visitor from another country, for example the UK, your website has to comply with UK law. I believe South Africa will (and should) follow their example soon and from an ethical and business perspective, it just makes sense to make sure our websites are accessible. 

The W3C has a list of governmental policies related to web accessibility which will be updated in February and March 2023. It would be interesting to check back in a month or two to see if South Africa is on he list.

How do I comply with all these different legislation:

The good thing is almost all countries follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) international standard set by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). In other words if we follow these guidelines, I’m positive that we are safe and our website visitors will be well looked after.

Truth be told, it is a huge website with a lot of information that can be overwhelming. My aim is to go through it all and present you with usable information that we can process and apply.

For now, this video offers a very good starting point:

Next week we will talk more about how to make our websites accessible.

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