The bill was recently passed and signed into law last year and the actual provisions are starting to be rolled out. The bill focuses on ensuring that communications, media services and video content are accessible. The law covers regulations for both the content and the equipment the content is rendered on. The bill mostly has to do with telecommunication, cell phone, video device manufacturers and service providers. For most of our customers that means it will have a minimal impact on their organizations and you should probably just be aware of it as a relevant law in the space. One item of interest, however, is that the act mandates that browsers present on cell phones support accessibility. To date accessibility via mobile devices has been kind of a gray area – is it required, is it not – and this clearly indicates that web accessibility will apply to mobile devices and mobile optimized sites. Most organizations we work with have assumed that would be the case someday but have put off looking at it. It seems now is probably a good time to take a look. Jon Avila, our Chief Accessibility Officer, put together a post on Google Web Toolkit (GWT) version 2.2 and the overall approach and support for accessibility in the toolkit and extensions for that. This touches on how GWT works in terms of accessibility and generally how Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) works in assistive technologies.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. The ADA requires that reasonable accommodations be provided in meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities. Additional technical assistance regarding the ADA is available through the ADA Technical Assistance Program.
Assistive Technology Act of 1998
The Assistive Technology Act establishes a grant program, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, to provide Federal funds to support State programs that address the assistive technology needs of individuals with disabilities.
Help America Vote Act of 2002
To establish a program to provide funds to States to replace punch card voting systems, to establish the Election Assistance Commission to assist in the administration of Federal elections and to otherwise provide assistance with the administration of certain Federal election laws and programs, to establish minimum election administration standards for States and units of local government with responsibility for the administration of Federal elections, and for other purposes.
Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996
Section 255 of the requires manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and providers of telecommunications services to ensure that such equipment and services are accessible to persons with disabilities, If readily achievable. The Federal Communications Commission Report and order implementing Section 255 was released in September 1999.
Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act
Section 501 of this act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in Federal employment and requires Federal agencies to establish affirmative action plans for the hiring, placement, and advancement of people with disabilities in Federal employment. Additional information and definitions related to Section 501 can be found at the EEOC website.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
Section 504 prohibits discrimination based on disability in federally funded and federally conducted programs or activities in the United States, including employment programs. Additional information and definitions related to Section 504 can be found at the Department of Labor website.
Section 505 of the Rehabilitation Act
Section 505 establishes the enforcement procedures for title V of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 505 (a) (1) provides that the procedures and rights in Section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shall be available with respect to any complaint under Section 501. Section 505 (a) (2) provides that the remedies, rights and procedures in title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shall be available to any person alleging a violation of Section 504. Section 508 is also enforced through the procedures established in Section 505 (a) (2 ).
Workforce Investment Act of 1998
Congress significantly strengthened section 508 in the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Its primary purpose is to provide access to and use of Federal executive agencies electronic and information technology (EIT) by individuals with disabilities.