Contending with International Requirements for Digital Content Accessibility

Digital content accessibility standards ensure everyone can access public online content. These standards address features that provide and enhance accessibility, experience, and comprehension for people with cognitive, intellectual, hearing, dexterity, mobility, or visual impairments.

To avoid inadvertent discrimination as the business landscape becomes ever more global, companies must comply with domestic and global standards for content accessibility. Begin with the basics about some of the most common worldwide systems to bring your business closer to conformance.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide a framework for Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust online content (POUR). An international coalition, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), created and continues to update WCAG to keep up with the technological evolution. The current standards establish three levels of conformance – A, AA, or AAA, depending on the company and various other factors.

Conforming to WCAG helps your company avoid violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act and other anti-discrimination laws. 

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The United Nations developed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to detail the human rights of people with disabilities and eventually serve as a basis for legislation to protect these rights. Two articles of the CRPD apply to digital content accessibility:

  • Article 9, Accessibility, emphasizes the importance of understanding the issues that may prevent people with disabilities from using and comprehending your online content. Under this article, businesses should address accessibility as early as possible when developing digital offerings such as websites and apps. It also requires providing teams in your organization with training and support on these issues while adapting your digital publications to meet accessibility guidelines
  • Article 21 addresses freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information. This article mandates that businesses and organizations offer various formats of accessible content at no additional charge, defaulting to open formats whenever possible. The accessible version of publications should be available immediately to prevent inequalities in knowledge and information for people with disabilities.

Country-Level Regulations

Besides broad compliance with CRPD and WCAG for your organization, a business should familiarize itself with the detailed digital accessibility guidelines in its five largest international markets.

While WCAG aligns with compliance laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act in the United States, other countries may impose requirements not covered under these global standards. Besides checking the websites for the applicable local governments, you can contact the ministry or department of technology in those nations.

Global compliance with digital content accessibility regulations becomes more complex as your organization expands to new markets. Partnering with an experienced team can efficiently align your company’s online assets with the needs of individuals with disabilities.

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Reach out today to schedule a discussion with an iBridge team member to learn how we can help your business conform with WCAG standards.

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