Laws Related to Web and Digital Application Accessibility

Laws Related to Web and Digital Application Accessibility

Holly Yu (California State University— Los Angeles, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch294
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Background

A person with a disability is defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as “someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a record of such impairment, or a person who is regarded as having such impairment” (ADA, 1990). The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) effectively expanded the individuals covered by the ADA. The Profile of America Facts for Features of the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that in 2010 the overall percentage of people with disabilities of all ages in the United States is 19 percent, or approximately equivalent to 56.7 million (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013). Among the six types of disabilities defined in the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS), it estimates 6.6 million individuals with visual disability, representing 2.2% of the total population; 10.5 million with hearing disability, representing 3.4% of the entire population; and 14.1 million people identified with cognitive disability, representing 4.9% of the population (EDI, 2012).

The disability rights movement in the United States originated during the post World War II era when a large number of disabled veterans joined the efforts of parents seeking education and independent living options for their children with disabilities (Slatin & Rush, 2003). The notion of access to information involving the civil rights of people with or without disabilities arises from the fact that access to information through technology has increasingly become a necessary tool for success and a source of opportunity in education and employment. With the unprecedented opportunities they created for people with and without disabilities, it has become apparent that information technologies have a tremendous potential for allowing people with disabilities to participate in mainstream activities and to support their ability to live independently.

In defining Web accessibility, Hackett and Parmanto state that accessibility may be direct or through the use of assistive technologies, hardware or software that aids a person in accessing the information (2005). Booth further argues that “accessibility is the principle that fullest use of any resources should be given to the greatest number of individuals” (2013). Disabled people who benefit the most from accessible design and assistive technology in interacting with the Web and digital applications, are those who are blind, visually impaired, people with hearing impairment, physical impairment, and learning difficulty such as dyslexia.

In recent years we have seen a growing body of significant laws, regulations, and standards concerning Web and digital application accessibilities that impact people with disabilities and their ability to fully overcome digital barriers and participate in the Web and digital environments. The legal foundation for protecting the right to access for persons with disabilities has been established through a series of federal and state laws, and regulations. These laws provide a legal ground on Web and digital application accessibility implementation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Responsive Web Design (RWD): RWD refers to the layout of a Web site design that adapts to the viewing environment or device, ranging from a mobile phone, tablet to desktop computer. The design provides an optimal navigation experience including resizing, scrolling by using proportion-based design.

Accessibility: Accessibility refers to the availability of a product, service, application and facility for use by as many people as possible. In an online environment, the term can be treated as the ability to access and navigate. The notion of the term often centers on people with disabilities and their right to access to and benefit from the use of information technologies.

Universal Design: A universal design concerns with making the Web contents and functionalities accessible and usable. The ultimate goal of a universal design enables all people regardless of their abilities to succeed using information technology and communication in their tasks.

Disability: A person with a disability is defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as “someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a record of such impairment, or a person who is regarded as having such impairment” (ADA, 1990 AU42: The in-text citation "ADA, 1990" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) effectively expands the individuals covered by the ADA.

ADA: ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The ADA establishes a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability in the areas of employment, transportation, public accommodations, public services, and telecommunications. The ADA uses concepts of disability, accessibility and employment introduced in its two predecessors of federal laws, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Assistive Technology: Assistive technology is a term that describes devices and services that improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities, or reduce/ remove barriers encountered by persons with disabilities. Assistive technology includes wheelchair or walker for mobility impairments, Personal Emergency Response Systems, accessibility software for visual, hearing, and cognitive impairments.

Digital Applications: A broad term refers to any application software that can be used by a computer, mobile device, or tablet to perform useful tasks. A specific piece of such software is called a software application, application program, application or app. A digital application is different from system software that manages, integrates a computer’s capabilities that serves the application.

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