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Web Accessibility Law – Ireland

Basis of national policy

Following the First Report of the Inter-Departmental Implementation Group on the Information Society in 1998, the Irish government published a document entitled Implementing the Information Society in Ireland: an Action Plan in January 1999, which envisaged the broad, socially inclusive application of Internet and communications technology (ICT).

Legislation in force

The Employment Equality Act (1998)

The Act includes disability as one of the grounds of discrimination.

The Equal Status Act (2000, 2004)

Subsection 4 of the Act defines discrimination affecting people with disabilities in terms of access to services:
"For the purposes of this Act discrimination includes a refusal or failure by the provider of a service to do all that is reasonable to accommodate the needs of a person with a disability by providing special treatment or facilities, if without such special treatment or facilities it would be impossible or unduly difficult for the person to avail himself or herself of the service."

The Disability Act (2005)

The following extracts are relevant:

From Section 27: "Where a service is provided to a public body, the head of the body shall ensure that the service is accessible to persons with disabilities".
From Section 28: "Where a public body communicates in electronic form with one or more persons, the head of the body shall ensure, that as far as practicable, the contents of the communication are accessible to persons with a visual impairment to whom adaptive technology is available".

NDA Code of Practice

The National Disability Authority's Code of Practice, a government order designed to facilitate implementation of the 2005 Act, directs public bodies to aim at achieving "Double-A level conformance with the Web Accessibility Initiative's (WAI) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines". The Code of Practice incorporates an annotated version of the WCAG 1.0 guidelines.

Accessible procurement

Section 27 of the Code of Practice advises public bodies to "build accessibility into the procurement process as a criterion" in order to meet the requirements of the Disability Act. The NDA has also issued the Public Sector Procurement Regulations 2006, which implements the EU Procurement Directive 2004/18/EC. The Directive states that
"Contracting authorities should, whenever possible, lay down technical specifications so as to take into account accessibility criteria for people with disabilities or design for all users. The technical specifications should be clearly indicated, so that all tenderers know what the requirements established by the contracting authority cover."

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