Marc Lind

Global Accessibility Regulations: What Applies to Your Organization?

The start of 2024 has been a groundbreaking year in the digital accessibility space. From state laws like Colorado’s HB21-1110 going into effect, to the Department of Justice and US Department of Health and Human Services mandating accessibility, the spotlight on accessible design has never been brighter.

For some teams and advocates, this could be remembered as the accessibility renaissance. For teams that fail to adapt quickly, this could usher in the dark ages for their roadmaps.

Now more than ever, accessibility isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s the law.

But more than ever, the law that affects your team may be confusing.

In this article, I will discuss the different accessibility laws that impact this space.

The foundation of all accessibility laws generally link back to the WCAG guidelines and success criteria, so if you aren’t familiar with those I’d suggest you start here: WCAG 2.2 Explained with Examples.

“I manage a public-facing website, like an eCommerce shop or marketing page.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the law in the United States that specifically addresses the accessibility of public websites for people with disabilities.

The ADA was enacted in 1990 primarily to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life—including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. However, its application to websites has been interpreted through various legal cases and Department of Justice rulings.

In recent years, there have been legal interpretations and settlements (including in early May 2024, as issued by the Department of Justice under Title III of the ADA) indicating that the ADA applies to websites and digital content, with courts often referencing the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as a benchmark for compliance.

However, it’s important to note that the legal landscape regarding web accessibility is still evolving, and requirements may vary depending on jurisdiction and individual case circumstances.

“My website sells in Europe.”

Many B2C e-commerce websites are impacted by the EN 301 549 law, which requires that the website meet WCAG 2.1 A and AA criteria. What’s interesting about this law is that the EU specifically states that manual testing is critical to finding and remediating all issues—so ensure you have a partner like Allyant, who is IAAP-certified, to run these manual evaluations.

“I sell software solutions to, or produce websites for, the U.S. federal government.”

As a software company, Section 508 is something you need to pay attention to if you’re doing business with the United States federal government or any organization that receives federal funding. Section 508 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and it requires federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. This includes websites, software, hardware, and other digital tools.

You might be wondering, “Why am I hearing about this now, if it’s been in place since 1973?”

That’s a great question and has been an ongoing pain point for advocates of digital accessibility. Section 508 has been in effect but has seemingly been a “do as I say, not as I do” approach from the government. As a matter of fact, the DOJ and GSA filed a report in early 2023 on the lack of progress, issuing a call to action to the President and Congress.

As a result, demands for VPATs have skyrocketed. This has led many teams that sell to federal customers losing opportunities to bid, or losing their current contracts, because they failed to present a VPAT.

“I sell software to, or produce web pages for, SLED customers.”

There’s a lot to unpack in this section, so let’s start with some background.

In a ground-breaking decision released in early April 2024, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has finalized a rule to enhance digital accessibility. The rule affects state and local governments, including government agencies, courts, and schools.

If you’re a state, local, or education facility, you must ensure your digital experiences are WCAG 2.1 compliant, even if content is developed by a third party. The timeline varies, and it can be referenced in the DOJ fact sheet.

What if you sell to SLED customers though?

Well, the DOJ fact sheet specifically outlines that even apps or websites run by private companies must be accessible. They outline this example:

“If a city lets people pay for public parking using a mobile app, that mobile app must meet WCAG 2.1, Level AA even if the app is run by a private company.”

So, in short, if you are a Title II company, you need to begin assessing your vendors to ensure they are accessible.

Need a place to start?

Allyant can help through our ProcureEnsure offering. If you sell an application to SLED customers, you need to have a plan in place to prove your compliance.

“I’m a Canadian company.”

Regardless of your industry, Canada has some specific laws on accessibility that deserve their own section. The AODA is the law most companies think of first. This is known as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which was enacted in 2005.

This Act would famously make Ontario the first Canadian province to implement comprehensive accessibility legislation. Building upon the Ontarians with Disabilities Act of 2001, the AODA sets out a framework of standards that public, private and non-profit organizations must meet. Its goal is to achieve a barrier-free Ontario by 2025.

As part of the AODA, private or non-profit organizations with over 50 employees and all public sector entities must ensure their websites and online content comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA by January 1, 2021. Failure to meet these requirements may result in fines of up to $100,000 per day for non-compliance.

There are varying opinions in the space about this law; however, many teams applaud the AODA for specifying a minimum employee count for private and non-profit organizations, as this prevents serial plaintiff attorneys from targeting SMBs that may not have the capacity to build an accessibility program.

Others argue that regardless of size, companies need to ensure an accessible experience for everyone.

“My main customers are airlines” or “I am an airline.”

In this case, the ACAA applies to you. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) is a U.S. law that ensures individuals with disabilities have access to air travel without discrimination. More specifically, this amendment applies to:

  • All domestic and foreign airlines operating at least one airplane with a seating capacity of more than 60 passengers, serving U.S. passengers.
  • Domestic and foreign airlines that have more than 10,000 passengers.
  • Ticket agents that are not small businesses (including travel websites such as,,,, and

Of course, this Act applies beyond digital accessibility—but that’s a different topic.

Regarding digital accessibility, the ACAA mandates that airlines and airports provide accessible electronic information and services to passengers with disabilities. This includes accessible websites, mobile apps, and electronic kiosks, ensuring that individuals with disabilities can book flights, check-in, and access relevant information independently.

Airlines and airports must adhere to accessibility standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), to ensure that digital platforms are usable by individuals with various disabilities, including those who are blind, deaf, or have mobility impairments.

So, if you develop software for airline companies, you must ensure an accurate and up-to-date VPAT is on your roadmap.

“I’m a healthcare provider” or “I sell to healthcare companies.”

In this case, Section 504 applies to you. As of May 1, 2024, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Office for Civil Rights (OCR), finalized a rule that prohibits discrimination based on disability. This Section 504 Final Rule clarifies and strengthens civil rights protections for people with disabilities, addresses discrimination in medical treatment, adds enforceable standards for accessible medical diagnostic equipment, and ensures accessible web content and mobile apps.

The financial consequences of non-compliance with this ruling are not to be taken lightly. The penalties are substantial, starting at $75,000 for the first complaint and escalating to $150,000 for each subsequent complaint. As a healthcare provider, it’s not just about avoiding these fines, but also about ensuring equal access to your content and the content you procure.

This ruling covers all forms of communication, including non-digital ones. For instance, if your organization prints bills, they must be shipped in an accessible format, such as braille.

This can create a few challenges for teams. In the long term, having multiple vendors to provide digital auditing, PDF assessments, PDF remediation, AND alternative text printing can be a headache.

However, it’s important to note that this regulation will be enforced starting on July 8, 2024. As a result, teams are expected to spend a significant amount of time meeting with various vendors and coordinating to find the best solution.

At Allyant, we take pride in being the only accessibility vendor in the industry that offers support across all these areas.


In conclusion, no matter your space or location, the world is waking up to the importance of digital accessibility. This should not come as a surprise, as it is estimated that 16% of the global population experiences a significant disability today.

Let’s not forget that the aging population is known as The Greying Globe effect. This, paired with the world moving more toward digital, makes it imperative that all digital content is accessible.

But remember, if accessibility being the right thing to do isn’t enough for your team—it’s still the law.