Page published on 9th May 2023
Page last modified on 9th May 2023


Awareness of disability acts around the world is now essential when creating products or services, particularly in an international field like IP. This post, written for us by Chris Naylor of digital transformation specialists Bnode, looks at why digital accessibility is becoming so important, and some of the issues that businesses need to consider when creating and publishing online content.

Chris took part in one of our Inclusivity Unlocked! webinars, “Online, but not forgotten”, in March 2023; since then he has continued to help our IP Ability community understand and promote better digital accessibility.

Chris writes: 

In today’s world, accessibility is no longer a luxury but a necessity. As a result, many countries have implemented accessibility laws that ensure that people with disabilities have access to goods and services. The United States of America is one such country, and its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a landmark piece of legislation that aims to make life easier for people with disabilities. In this blog post, we will discuss the ADA, its requirements, and its relevance to businesses around the world as well as to the intellectual property they generate.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The act was passed in 1990 and was amended in 2008 to broaden its scope. The ADA applies to all aspects of public life, including employment, transportation, education, and access to goods and services. Under the ADA, businesses and organisations must provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities to ensure they have equal access to their goods and services.

The ADA has specific requirements for physical access, such as wheelchair ramps and accessible restrooms, but it also has requirements for digital accessibility. In today’s world, many businesses operate online, and websites and apps are an essential part of their operations. As a result, the ADA has specific requirements for digital accessibility, including making websites and apps accessible to people with disabilities.

Digital accessibility means that people with disabilities can use and interact with digital content in the same way as people without disabilities. For example, a website that is accessible to people with visual impairments may use alternative text to describe images, have captions for videos, and have a clear structure and hierarchy. Making digital content accessible can involve changes to the design, coding and content of a website or app.

So how does this apply to businesses and people in the UK? Well, no matter the origin of a product or asset, if it can be accessed in other countries then it is highly likely that it can be argued that it falls under their accessibility laws. This is especially the case if you actively seek out or work with people from other countries. Ensuring that you are compliant, as well as “doing the right thing”, should be at the forefront of your content creation and promotion processes. It is also worth noting that although we have discussed ADA here, there are many other countries that have their own regulations when it comes to accessibility, so it is always best to look into those, especially if they are your target audience.

If you are a content creator for your organisation, you may be wondering how the ADA applies to the intellectual property you generate. As an IP professional, you may also wonder how it impacts on your clients’ creations. The ADA does not directly address intellectual property, but it does require businesses to make their goods and services accessible to people with disabilities. This means that if you create digital content, such as an eBook or a website, you must ensure that it is accessible. The same applies if you are creating a product, such as a new assistive technology device.

Ensuring that your intellectual property is accessible not only ensures that you are compliant with relevant disability legislation – such as the ADA – but also helps to create a more inclusive society. By making your content accessible, you are allowing people with disabilities to participate fully in society and access the same opportunities as people without disabilities. This should matter to both IP sector businesses and their clients.


Need to know more…?

If you are interested in discussing how your digital assets can be more inclusive to those with disabilities, please get in touch with Chris Naylor at Bnode Ltd (the ethical and environmental digital marketing agency) via [email protected] or by visiting Chris will be happy to chat with you about your online activities – or indeed those of your clients – to help you ensure they’re in line with relevant disability legislation, in the UK and elsewhere.

To find out more about, and/or get involved with, our IP Ability community, please visit their webpage.

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