American Legal and Historical Context
Web accessibility is important for ethical reasons but in many countries, it’s also a legal requirement. Key pieces of legislation supporting accessibility in the United States include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These pieces of legislation were hard-earned, as documented in the short film, “The Power of 504,” which contains original footage documenting the protests that pushed government officials to sign Section 504 into law.
Taken together, these pieces of legislation have been used to insist that web content and technologies be made equally accessible to people with and without disabilities. In support of this principle, recent legal cases have been lodged against Harvard and MIT (2015), UC Berkeley (2016), Duke University (2020), and many other schools.