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Accessibility.Blog

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. and Acknowledging Digital Accessibility as a Civil Right

January 21, 2019 9:20:00 AM EST

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a life so impactful, marked by such rare courage and strength of character, that words like "extraordinary" and "inspiring" knowingly fall short — well short. To honor his legacy and recognize that his leadership directly changed the course of American history — not just for the lives of the marginalized groups he fought and ultimately died for, but for the enlightened consciousness of an entire nation — we celebrate him on the third Monday of January each year.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

The work of Dr. King is inseparable from the accomplishments of the civil rights movement, which produced one of the most famous and powerful pieces of legislation in U.S. history: the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act, which was initially proposed by President John F. Kennedy, survived his assassination and was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson just hours after being passed by the House.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also created the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and enabled other agencies to not only request federal anti-discrimination laws be followed, but enforce them.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Civil rights movements continued in the United States in the decades that followed, in many ways modeling themselves after and following the paths paved by the sacrifice and achievements of the Dr. King era. The disability rights movement saw its share of hardship, as well, and like its predecessor it yielded a landmark law on human rights: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, provides civil rights protection to people with disabilities, making discrimination on the basis of disability illegal. It is the most important piece of disability rights legislation in our country's history and has served as a model for similar laws enacted by other countries around the world.

In his remarks at the signing of the ADA, President Bush said, "This historic act is the world's first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities -- the first. Its passage has made the United States the international leader on this human rights issue."

Does the ADA apply to website accessibility?

Since it predated the modern web, the Americans with Disabilities Act focused on physical accessibility and does not specifically mention websites. However, the ADA prohibits discrimination by government entities or in places of public accommodation — as the rise in digital accessibility lawsuits shows, websites are places of public accommodation and when they aren't built to be accessible to people with disabilities, those protected under the ADA have had their civil rights violated and can take legal action.

Here to help you achieve accessibility compliance

Talk to us to learn how we can help with all aspects of your digital accessibility efforts, or get started with a free and confidential website accessibility scan. We look forward to helping you achieve, maintain, and prove digital compliance.

Lawsuits & Settlement Human Interest Accessibility Requirements ADA Title II&III Government Knowing is half the battle

    

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