South African Accessibility Laws
Web Accessibility Laws in South Africa
Section 9 of South Africa’s Constitution states that “no person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone” on grounds that cover a long list of criteria including “disability.”
Furthermore, legislation that protects citizens’ rights to information requires that, within reason, limitations may not be placed on any individuals’ right to access any public or private information.
This means that media of all kinds — including video — must be made universally available and accessible to all South Africans.
The Equality Act
The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, also known as PEPUDA, or the Equality Act, became law in the year 2000. It states that “neither the State nor any person may unfairly discriminate against any person.”
Discrimination, in this piece of legislation, is defined as “any act or omission, including a policy, law, rule, practice, condition or situation which directly or indirectly A) imposes burdens, obligations or disadvantages on; or B) withholds benefits, opportunities, or advantages from any person on one or more of the prohibited grounds,” which include the grounds of disability.
Chapter 9 of the Equality Act, Prohibition of unfair discrimination on the basis of disability, also states that “no person may discriminate against any person on the ground of disability,” including “failing to eliminate obstacles that unfairly limit or restrict persons with disabilities from enjoying equal opportunities or failing to take steps to reasonably accommodate the needs of such persons.”
Promotion of Access to Information Act
The Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) of 2000 states “right of access to any information held by a public or private body may be limited to the extent that the limitations are reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality, and freedom.”
What It All Means for Video Accessibility in South Africa
To ensure compliance with accessibility laws in South Africa, video creators and publishers in the country must be sure their video content is accessible to and is capable of accommodating people with disabilities.
For both public and private entities in South Africa, keep in mind that the Equality Act requires the elimination of any obstacles preventing the differently abled from enjoying any “equal opportunities,” and prohibits “failing to take steps to reasonably accommodate the needs of such persons.”
At the same time, the Promotion of Access to Information Act establishes every South African’s right to access any information held by a public or private body “to the extent that the limitations are reasonable and justifiable.”
The best way to make video content accessible to deaf and hard of hearing individuals is to ensure closed captions are available and meet basic quality standards. For those who are blind or have low vision, audio description can give an equivalent experience by describing what is happening on screen.
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