Is there a legal requirement for public sector bodies’ websites and websites of publicly available services in your country to be accessible to all persons with disabilities?
“Public sector bodies” means the State, regional or local authorities, bodies or associations governed by public law. “Websites of publicly available services” means a website used to deliver a service made available to the public. For instance, educational establishments, leisure services employment services, health care, mutual services, etc. ‘Web-accessible’ means a website or web-based service (including those designed for mobile devices and/or use) which is easy to browse, navigate, understand, operate, interact with and use safely, securely, independently, and with dignity by a person with a disability under all circumstances (including emergency cases).If “Yes” or “Yes, with qualifications” please describe any significant differences between the legal situation and the reality of everyday life.
Relates to Convention Article:
- No.9, Accessibility
- No.21, Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information
Articles 9 and 21 cross over in the field of information and communication. Article 21 prescribes that States Parties shall “take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice”. In fact, Article 21 elaborates in more detail how the accessibility of information and communication can be ensured in practice. Inter alia, the State Parties shall provide information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities.
Private entities providing services to the general public, including through the Internet, are urged to provide information and services in accessible and usable formats for persons with disabilities (section (c)). Therefore the question asks for not only public sector bodies’ websites, but also websites of all publicly available services.
Arab and African countries clearly lag behind in the accessibility of publicly available website.
Ensuring full access to information and communication and services opened or provided to the public – together with transportation and built environment, is indeed a vital pre-condition for effective enjoyment of many rights covered by CRPD.
Regarding ICT there is a big gap between the most developed countries and the others. As mentioned, ICT is something closer related to economic development and wealth. On the other hand, especially ICT is in many cases not a question of affordability but of a political will (e.g. defining standards for software and hardware). In today’s world, being excluded from using mobile phones, the Internet, televisions, computers and their myriad of applications and services implies being shut down not only from the information society, but also from accessing essential public services, as well as from the opportunity of living an independent life.
In most countries a law on website accessibility does not exist or is in a drafting stage. In several countries, although the legal framework is in place, there is no enforcement if the website does not comply with the standards (Denmark, Luxembourg, Uganda, India or Moldova). As the map shows, Arab countries’ results are particularly poor on web accessibility. On the other hand, also in countries without legal requirements, there is clear trends towards accessible websites (South Africa, Philippines and Sweden).