The Israel Standard (IS) 5568 is one of the most enforced web accessibility laws in the world. It mandates all companies that operate in Israel to maintain accessible websites or face stiff penalties.
This article provides a concise overview of IS 5568 – what it entails, who it applies to, and the consequences of non-compliance.
What is the IS 5568?
IS 5568 is the law that governs web accessibility in Israel. A version of this law was scheduled to be implemented in 2015. However, it was delayed for two years before it finally came into effect in 2017.
IS 5568 is based on the Equal Rights For Persons With Disabilities (ERPD) Act of 1998. The Act made it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in public places, public services, products, and employment.
It aims to protect the dignity and freedoms of people with disabilities and provide them with opportunities to fully and actively participate in society.
Accordingly, the ERPD covers people with temporary or permanent mental, intellectual, physical, or cognitive impairment.
How did IS 5568 come into effect?
In August 2000, the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CERPD) was established to enforce the ERPD. It began evaluating potential accessibility guidelines for sectors in both the private and government sectors straight away.
The Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (ERPD) applies to websites in Israel like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) acts in the United States. However, unlike the ADA, the Israeli government did not specify standards for web accessibility when enacting the law.
Then in 2012, the Israeli government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that mandated that member nations provide people with disabilities with equal access to information and communication technology.
This quest to ensure technological accessibility for all eventually led to the creation of IS 5568. That is why the guidelines in the IS 5568 are similar to those in the international web accessibility standard, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
To whom does IS 5568 apply?
These are the key points to note about IS 5568 compliance:
- The law applies to all services provided by both private and public (government) institutions.
- All medium and large companies established after 2017 with average annual revenue of NIS 300,000 or more must become compliant immediately.
- Small businesses with an average annual income of under NIS 300,000 must become compliant by October 2020.
- Only private contractors with an average income of NIS 100,000 New Shekels (NS) or less are exempt from complying with IS 5568.
What is the penalty for non-compliance?
As earlier stated, IS 5568 takes its roots from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), like many other countries’ accessibility regulations. However, Israel imposes harsher sanctions for non-compliance than most countries.
In many countries, if someone is sued because their website is inaccessible, the court can only order the website owner to make the necessary adjustments to their website.
IS 5568, on the other hand, the court allows the complainant to seek statutory damages of up to 50,000 NIS. The complainant could be a person with a disability or an organization that represents a group of people with disabilities.
It is also interesting to note that the complainant is not required to prove that the non-accessible site caused them any loss or injury. They only need to show that the site is not compliant with IS 5568.
Israel’s IS 5568 shares many similarities with the international web accessibility standards, WCAG 2.0. Therefore, a business that complies with WCAG 2.0 standards automatically complies with IS 5568.
Besides being a legal requirement, web accessibility has several business advantages. It helps retain more visitors, boosts search engine rankings, and provides an overall better experience for all users.
Ultimately, all Israel-based businesses with an online presence, both in the private and public sectors, have strong incentives to ensure their websites remain accessible.