The increasing importance of the internet usage in everyday life made it imperative to protect the access right for all people. A number of countries have implemented legislation to guide governments, businesses, educational institutions, and the like with respect to their obligations to make Information and Communications Technology (ICT) accessible to people with disabilities. Generally, legislation is crafted to assist people with disabilities to access information, and it may include specific groups such as those who are blind or have low vision, people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, those with cognitive disabilities, and individuals with motor impairments. Countries may have different definitions in place to identify who is considered to have a disability.
ICT may include websites and web applications, software, hardware, mobile applications, etc. The kinds of organizations, types of products and services, and range of people with disabilities may vary from country to country, thus it is important to understand what is applicable in every particular situation. Although countries have approached the topic of ICT accessibility in different ways, it is common for the legislations to refer to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. It is ideal when countries point to guidance from the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) rather than creating new guidelines.
The United States' Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Final Standards and Guidelines, incorporates by reference a series of guidelines:
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)
- Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG 2.0)
- User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG 2.0)
Although the references here are to the recommendations, developers and designers tend to find the supporting documents linked from them, such as those that include code samples, easier to understand and implement. In addition, though it may not be directly referenced, WAI provides information about non-web-based Information and Communication Technology (ICT):
- Guidance on Applying WCAG 2.0 to Non-Web Information and Communications Technologies (WCAG2ICT)
- WCAG2ICT Overview
Additional details about countries that have implemented relevant accessibility legislation and important relevant standards: