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Accessibility.Blog

What the 4th of July Means for Accessibility

July 3, 2018 1:32:50 PM EDT

In America, the declaration of the nation’s commitment that people with disabilities are afforded the same levels of freedom and independence as everyone else is demonstrated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA protects the rights of Americans with disabilities in many areas including the following:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Finance
  • Travel

The United States has been celebrating and protecting the right to freedom for hundreds of years. Every July 4th we commemorate the nation’s independence and its commitment to the ideals of freedom upon which it was founded. Fundamental to these ideals is the revered notion that they apply to all Americans, regardless of their situation or background.

For people with disabilities, America’s commitment to providing freedom and independence is even more dear. Someone with a visual or mobility impairment relies more than others on a society that respects their right to a good quality of life. This includes things such as the freedom to travel, to access services and to engage in community life.

The ADA

In America, the declaration of the nation’s commitment that people with disabilities are afforded the same levels of freedom and independence as everyone else is demonstrated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The legislation details the ways in which the federal government ensures that state and local government services, public accommodations and commercial facilities must accommodate the needs of people with disabilities.

This legislation applies to key areas including:

  • Education - The ADA protects the rights of all people to have access to a public education. This includes the ability to physically access public educational facilities as well as have access to online educational information. The ADA also complements other education laws that affect students with learning or attention issues, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • Healthcare - Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act outlines the key role that healthcare providers play for people with disabilities. The law prevents “places of public accommodation” — including healthcare organizations — from discriminating against people with disabilities. Websites, too, are places of public accommodation. This means healthcare providers must ensure that their websites comply with accessibility standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1).
  • Finance - Being able to access financial services online is a necessity for most people today and desirable due to significantly improved ease of access from any location. For people with a disability who may have additional difficulty visiting a physical bank location, online banking services become even more essential. For banks to comply with their accessibility requirements and avoid litigation risk, the simplest approach is to comply with established web accessibility frameworks, such as WCAG 2.1.
  • Travel and leisure - As part of fulfilling ADA requirements under public accommodations, travel agencies, tour operators and hotels need to ensure accessibility to their services. Doing so — making sure locations or online booking and information services are as easily accessible as possible to all potential customers — makes sense purely from a business perspective, as well.

Freedom for All

This 4th of July, it makes sense to take an extra minute to consider how the values that Independence Day represents apply to all Americans — especially those relying on those values more than others to ensure a good quality of life. Web accessibility is a straightforward but essential right for many millions of people, and every organization should ensure it is meeting its obligations to Americans with disabilities.

For more information on how you can help ensure your business or organization is helping Americans live a free and independent life, please see our free WCAG report or contact us for more information on website accessibility.

Accessibility Guidelines Accessibility Requirements People with Disabilities ADA Title II&III Government Defining Terms

    

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