The US has a number of laws to help people with disabilities get equal opportunities in life. For instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates businesses and private entities to ensure that disabled people can enjoy their products and services just as much as non-disabled patrons. Section 508 is another law that was passed to protect people with disabilities from being discriminated against by any federal agency or government-funded organization.

Other countries have also enacted their own laws to make sure that people with disabilities are able to get complete and equal access to everything that non-disabled people have access to. For Israel, the important law concerning web accessibility that you should learn about is IS 5568.

Key Takeaways

A lady on a wheelchair operating a mobile device | A featured image from the IS 5568 Resource Page of AccessAPal.

What is IS 5568?

The Israel Standard (IS) 5568 refers to the legal guidelines followed by Israel when it comes to web accessibility. The law was originally supposed to be implemented as early as 2015; unfortunately, it met several delays before finally getting put to motion in October 2017.

Several government agencies and departments, including the Ministries of Justice and Finance, understood how important web accessibility is in today’s digital age. They lobbied for years to pursue legislation that can successfully remove barriers against people with disabilities, especially on the online platform. Thus, IS 5568 came into fruition, with its main objective the creation of an Israeli society that embraced equality for everyone.

How Did IS 5568 Become a Law?

It all started way back in 1998 when the Israeli Parliament passed the Equal Rights For Persons With Disabilities Law (ERPD). ERPD’s main goal was to make sure that Israelis with disabilities would still be able to actively participate in society. According to this law, persons with disabilities can refer to anyone who has “a physical, mental or intellectual, including cognitive, impairment, whether permanent or temporary, which substantially limits his functioning in one or more of the central spheres of life.”

Two years later, in August 2000, the Israeli government created the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CERPD) to help carry out the ERPD. Part of its function was to assess various accessibility laws and policies that it could further improve to better serve people with disabilities in both private and public sectors.

In May 2008, the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came into force. The purpose of the convention was “to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities.” UN wanted to make a difference in the ways that people of disabilities were often viewed, from looking at them as “objects of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as subjects with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.”

After four years, Israel adopted the UN’s convention, giving more power to the CERPD in the process. Since the UN’s convention required member states to also consider and improve disabled people’s access to information and communication technology, the Israeli government was forced to formulate new legislation that can better focus on web accessibility.

Government officials and Israeli NGOs were drafted to build a committee tasked with writing the legal guidelines for the law. Since most countries were already using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the committee elected to base IS 5568 on its standards as well, even indicating on its opening page that it is basically the same as WCAG 2.0.

Who is Covered by IS 5568?

Israel’s ERPD law explicitly states that the IS 5568 applies to all services offered to the general public. The types of businesses covered in the legal guidelines are as follows:

Additionally, there are differences in compliance requirements depending on the size of the business. For example, medium and large businesses earning an average revenue of at least NIS 300,000 per year and were set up after 2017 are required to comply with IS 5568 immediately. On the other hand, businesses established prior to 2017 can wait until October 2020 to follow the guidelines.

Small businesses earning an average revenue of less than NIS 300,000 each year also have until October 2020 to become compliant with IS 5568. However, private contractors whose average revenue is only less than NIS 100,000 per year are not mandated to comply with IS 5568.

A Final Word on IS 5568 Compliance

Compliance with IS 5568 is necessary to build a society that provides equal opportunities for people with disabilities. Additionally, making sure that your website follows the law protects your business from being sued, as it is considered a civil infraction under the ERPD.

The legal consequences behind IS 5568 are much more significant than similar web accessibility laws in other countries. For instance, IS 5568 allows the plaintiff to ask for statutory damages of up to 50,000 NIS from non-compliant businesses. The plaintiff doesn’t even have to prove that they went through any particular damage or loss stemming from the business website’s inaccessibility, they simply need to prove that the website failed to comply with the standards set by IS 5568.

If you need assistance in ensuring that your website follows US web accessibility standards, you can always turn to Access-A-Pal. Access-A-Pal can help protect your business against possible lawsuits by making sure it complies with ADA and WCAG guidelines for web accessibility. Contact Access-A-Pal now so that they can help you make your website more accessible and show your customers that you care about them.