International Laws

Human Rights Around The World

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that access to information and communications technologies and systems is one element that will enable persons with disabilities to participate more fully in all aspects of life. Most countries around the world have adopted and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). To date, the UNCRPD has been signed by 164 countries and ratified (or made legally binding) by 180. The UNCRPD was adopted in December 2006 and entered into force in 2008. Canada was one of the first countries to sign the Convention (signed March 30, 2007 and ratified on March 11, 2010), which complements existing obligations under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and in other federal and provincial legislation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that approximately 25% of the world’s population is affected by disability, and 80% of the world’s people with disabilities live in low-income countries. It was deemed that people with disabilities were being denied their human rights.
The Convention in Brief

Article 9 of the convention states:

People with disability have the right to access all aspects of society on an equal basis with others including the physical environment, transportation, information and communications, and other facilities and services provided to the public.

Accessibility Adoption By Country

There is a growing realization of the business case for advancing accessibility to the digital realm for persons with disabilities. It is seen as an opportunity to reach into broader consumer segments in a crowded marketplace. This global trend has, through global collaboration, established globally accepted web accessibility standards that are supported by government legislation compliance regulations around the world. In addition to being signatories to the UNCRPD and agreeing to abide by that Convention, most countries have adopted their own methods for governing digital accessibility internally. For some countries, the requirements only apply to government organizations, and in others, it applies to both public and private organizations.

  • Australia uses the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 which applies to both public and private sector organizations, basing their requirements on WCAG.
  • Canada uses the Canadian Human Rights Act of 1985 which applies to both public and private sector organizations. Canada also has the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity, 2016 which applies to government organizations and is based on WCAG.
  • The European Union currently has the Web Accessibility Directive and the European Accessibility Act, which use WCAG.
  • The United States has a number of laws and requirements some of which are based on WCAG and others on different variations, some applying to public and private sector and others to one or the other.
  • The United Kingdom has the Equality Act, 2010 which is a non-discrimination law applying to both public and private sector organizations and is based on WCAG.