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Why are Accessible Documents Important to Business?

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It is now broadly understood that all companies are required to have accessible websites, per the American’s with Disabilities Act. There are numerous laws about accessibility that pertain to specific businesses and others that apply generally to commerce of all types.

Section 508 is an amendment to the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, requiring all government agencies (state, local and federal), companies that receive federal funding, or are contracted with a government agency to have accessible websites, that include all attachments and multimedia files.  All attachments need to be compliant.  These include: Word, PowerPoint, HTML, Multimedia, Excel and PDF.

Health and Human Services has an excellent resource for checking if attachments are 508 compliant.

Those wishing to do business with the Federal Government are most affected by Section 508 but, overall, everyone is affected. If contractors or vendors submit non-compliant documents, the government has every right to reject them or cancel contracts.

More and more consumers also expect businesses to provide accessible services and communications through websites and social media, and rightly so. It’s a lot better for businesses to comply with Section 508 requirements than to be added to the ever-growing list of lawsuits being filed for non-compliance.

Because there are numerous Federal laws pertaining specifically to which industries need to provide accessibility and in which way, any business looking to comply with a specific law is encouraged to retain the services of a lawyer who specializes in disability and accessibility laws.

When it’s broken down, the word accessibility is the “ability” to “access”. Making your business accessible for people of all abilities not only increases your customer base and makes good economic sense, it benefits everyone and helps to create a more inclusive society. And, it’s the law!

When it comes to including those with a visual impairment, these solutions include braille, large print and electronic document accessibility, such as formats like accessible PDF, which is a Section 508 compliant electronic document.

Some laws about disability and inclusion to note are: the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Rehabilitation Act 1973, and the more recent Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the provision that speaks to nondiscrimination. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, age, national origin, or disability in certain health programs or activities. There are numerous categories of businesses that are obliged to comply with Section 1557. The Effective Communication document put out by the U.S. Department of Justice gives a good overview of the requirements necessary to be in compliance.

Be inclusive. Be accessible. It’s good for business.