Overview of web accessibility regulations in the world

Making your website accessible is equivalent to extending access to information to people with physical and cognitive disabilities and those with limited hardware and software tools.

For this reason, national and international regulations have been enacted in recent decades that guarantee legal compliance with accessibility standards for websites in the public and private sectors.

What is web accessibility?

According to the World Wide Web Consortium, website accessibility is the ability of a website to be used effectively (in its interface and content) by different users in different contexts.

A site is accessible if everyone can navigate it in all its parts and experience the contents within it, regardless of the:

  • Impaired vision or hearing;
  • Disability and mobility difficulties;
  • Disability and diversity of cognitive needs;
  • Use of browsers and special devices;
  • Use of obsolete browsers and slow Internet connections;
  • Use of different operating systems or computing devices.

International Web Accessibility Regulations


The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), are standards for making the web accessible to all.

In version 2.1, the WCAG guidelines help make the Internet more inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities compatible with the development of new technologies.

WCAGs have become an industry standard for accessibility testing, forming the basis for most Web accessibility standards and guidelines worldwide.

Learn more about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)


From 2016, the Web Accessibility Directive (EU Directive 2016/2102) regulates Web accessibility for European Union member countries.

In particular, the directive obliges public sector websites and apps to meet specific technical accessibility standards following the principles underlying the more expansive European Accessibility Act.

Learn more about the Web Accessibility Directive (WAD)

Web Accessibility worldwide


Web accessibility in Italy is regulated by the Agency for Digital (AGID) and provides obligations and guidelines to which public and private entities must adhere as required.

The Agency for Digital is the body contributing to the diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICT). Agid promotes Web accessibility by monitoring the implementation of legislation and issues guidelines in this regard.

The reference standard for the accessibility of websites in Italy is the Stanca law, or law 4/2004, which establishes the provisions for the access of disabled persons to IT tools. Decree-Law 76/2020 recently extended these provisions to private entities with an average turnover of more than 500 million euros.

Learn more about web accessibility in Italy

Standard: WCAG 2.1 AA


As of 2013, all public and private sector websites must comply with the web accessibility standards prescribed by the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992.

Standard: WCAG 2.0 AA


The Canadian public and private sectors respond to the Canadian Human Rights Act of 1985. Web accessibility is regulated by the Policy on Communications and Federal Entity of 2016.

Standard: WCAG 2.0 AA


The French public sector complies with the accessibility guidelines prescribed by the RGAA (Référentiel général d’amélioration del’accessibilité), pursuant to Loi No 2005-102 of 11 February 2005.

Learn more about web accessibility in France.

Standard: RGAA 4.1 / Based on WCAG 2.1


The German public sector, together with private entities providing services for the public sector, responds to the guidelines for accessibility prescribed by the BITV( Barrierefreie-Informationstechnik-Verordnung), a federal ordinance for fair access to information technology.

A further piece of legislation, the Gesetz zur Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz – BGG), reaffirms the need to ensure the whole usability of goods and services for citizens.

Learn more about web accessibility in Germany.

Standard: BITV 2.0 / Based on WCAG 2.0


Indian public sector websites must comply with the Guidelines for Indian Government Websites following the general provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016.

Standard: WCAG 2.0 A


As of 2005, public sector web accessibility in Ireland is regulated by the Disability Act.

Standard: N.D.



Since 1998, Israeli public and private sector websites have been required to comply with the accessibility standards of the Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.

Standard: WCAG 2.0 AA


New Zealand

The New Zealand public sector must comply with the Web accessibility standards set out in the Department of Home Affairs’ Online Practice Guidelines.

Standard: WCAG 2.0 AA


United Kingdom

As of 2010, UK websites are required to comply with the non-discrimination principles of the Equality Act. At a technical level, the BS 8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice provides non-legally binding guidance for creating accessible products.

Standard: WCAG 2.0

Learn more about web accessibility in UK.


The guidelines and compliance with the Web accessibility criteria of the Spanish public sector are issued by the dedicated government portal: Accesibilidad (Portal de Administración Electrónica).

Find out more about web accessibility in Spain.

Standard: WCAG 2.1

United States

Web accessibility in the public and private sectors has been regulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) since 1990. This anti-discrimination law extends not only to physical places but to any platform for public use, including:

  • State and local government websites (Title II);
  • Companies open to the public (Title III).

From a technical point of view, in addition to the guidelines provided on the ADA portal, the accessibility of websites is regulated by the so-called Section 508. In contrast, audiovisual content is regulated by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA).

Learn more about web accessibility in the United States.

Standard: based on WCAG 2.0



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