Technology Law Analysis
June 04, 2019
Websites in India to be made accessible to the differently abled by June 15, 2019
Certain requirements to make online websites accessible for disabled persons have been prescribed under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (“Act”) and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules, 2017 (“Rules”). The deadline for compliance under the Act and Rules is June 14th, 2019.
Backgro und to the Law:
Section 42 of the Act requires that the Government take measures to ensure that “(i) all contents available in audio, print and electronic media are in accessible format; (ii) persons with disabilities have access to electronic media by providing audio description, sign language interpretation and close captioning; (iii) electronic goods and equipment which are meant for every day use are available in universal design.”
Pursuant to Section 42, certain standards have been prescribed to ensure accessibility of information and communication technology under Rule 15 of the Rules. Rule 15 requires that all ‘establishments’ comply with the following standards vis-à-vis information and communication technology:
Rule 15 further provides that the standard of accessibility in respect of other services and facilities shall be specified by the Central Government within a period of 6 months from the date of notification of the Rules. However, no further standards have been prescribed.
An ‘establishment’ for the purpose of Rule 15 has been defined under Section 2(i) of the Act to include both Government and private establishments.
Time line for Compliance:
Section 46 of the Act provides that all service providers, whether Government or private, are required to adhere to the rules on accessibility within a period of 2 (two) years from the date of notification of such rules.
The Rules, (which prescribe the accessibility requirements under Rule 15), were notified on 15th June, 2017. Therefore, the deadline for complying with Rule 15 is June 15th, 2019.
Applica bility of Rule 15 to private online websites:
From a bare reading of the aforesaid provisions, the accessibility requirements under Rule 15 would appear to apply to both Government as well as private service providers. This is because, an ‘establishment’ under Rule 15 has been defined to include private establishments, and Section 46 of the Act refers to both Government, as well as private service providers.
We understand from the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, under the Ministry of Social Justice that the standards prescribed under Requirement 1 only apply to Government websites.
Insofar as Requirement 2 is concerned, depending upon the nature of the content on the website, it would need to be examined whether this requirement applies.
Penalt ies for Non-Compliance:
Section 89 of the Act prescribes that the penalty for contravention of any provision of the Act or Rules shall be a fine which may extend to INR 10,000 (Rupees Ten Thousand) for a first contravention, and for any subsequent contravention, a fine which shall not be less than INR 50,000 (Rupees Fifty Thousand) but which may extend to INR 5,00,000 (Rupees Five Lakhs).
Overall, how the Government intends to enforce these requirements is not clear and the industry may want to seek overall guidance.
Please see our legal alert titled “INDIA'S NEW LAW ON DISABILITY EXTENDS TO PRIVATE EMPLOYERS”.
– Tanisha Khanna, Aaron Kamath & Gowree Gokhale
You can direct your queries or comments to the authors
FT Innovative Lawyers Asia Pacific 2019 Awards: NDA ranked 2nd in the Most Innovative Law Firm category (Asia-Pacific Headquartered)
RSG-Financial Times: India’s Most Innovative Law Firm
Chambers and Partners Asia Pacific: Band 1 for Employment, Lifesciences, Tax and TMT
Benchmark Litigation Asia-Pacific: Tier 1 for Government & Regulatory and Tax
IFLR1000: Tier 1 for Private Equity and Project Development: Telecommunications Networks.
Legal500: Tier 1 for Dispute, Tax, Investment Fu ds, Labour & Employment, TMT and Corporate M&A
AsiaLaw 2019: Ranked ‘Outstanding’ for Technology, Labour & Employment, Private Equity, Regulatory and Tax
Who’s Who Legal 2019:
Merger Market 2018:Fastest growing M&A Law Firm in India
Asia Mena Counsel’s In-House Community Firms Survey 2018:The only Indian Firm recognized for Life Sciences
IFLR: Indian Firm of the Year
IDEX Legal Awards 2015: Nishith Desai Associates won the “M&A Deal of the year”, “Best Dispute Management lawyer”, “Best Use of Innovation and Technology in a law firm” and “Best Dispute Management Firm”
The contents of this hotline should not be construed as legal opinion. View detailed disclaimer.