Legislation Impacting Business
The following includes a list of legislation that strongly encourages or mandates the availability of alternate formatted personal or public information to avoid the exclusion or discrimination of those with visual disabilities.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA gives civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. Public accommodations include restaurants, retail stores, hotels, theatres, education facilities, convention centers, healthcare facilities, etc. These businesses must comply with requirements that prohibit exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment. They must provide effective communication to people with hearing, vision or speech disabilities.
Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. '749d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others.
Telecommunications Act (Section 255)
This section of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and providers of telecommunications services to ensure that such equipment and services are accessible to persons with disabilities, if readily achievable. The Federal Communications Commission's Report and Order Implementing Section 255 was released in September 1999.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IDEA applies to people of all ages with learning disabilities, offering protection against discrimination and providing a right to different forms of assistance in the classroom and workplace.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
The FOIA generally provides that any person has a right of access to federal agency records, except to the extent that the records are protected from disclosure by any of the nine exemptions contained in the law or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. The FOIA requires Federal agencies to provide the fullest possible disclosure of information to the public.
The Privacy Act
This Act provides safeguards against unwarranted invasions of privacy through the misuse of records by Federal agencies by restricting disclosure of personally identifiable records maintained by agencies; granting individuals increased rights of access to records maintained about them; granting individuals the right to seek amendment of records maintained about them upon a showing that the records are not accurate, relevant, timely, or complete; and establishing a code of "fair information practices".