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Is Website Accessibility a Legal Requirement in Spain?

By October 9, 2023No Comments3 min read

In today’s digital world, having an accessible website is becoming increasingly important for organizations in all sectors. But is it a legal obligation? What does Spanish law actually say about website accessibility requirements? Let’s take a look.

What is Website Accessibility? 

First, some background. Website accessibility means designing websites so they can be used by people with disabilities. 

The main guidelines are the international Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). They outline standards for making content accessible to those with:

  • Visual impairments 
  • Hearing loss
  • Limited mobility 
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Other impairments

WCAG covers issues like adding text descriptions for images, captions for audio, ensuring keyboard compatibility, and more. Conformance is graded at levels A, AA, or AAA. AA is generally viewed as the minimum standard.

An accessible website removes barriers and improves the user experience for everyone.

Spanish Legal Requirements 

In Spain, website accessibility is addressed in several different laws:

Ley General de Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad y de su Inclusión Social – This 2013 law establishes rights for people with disabilities, including around accessible information technologies. It requires public sector bodies to meet AA conformance.

Ley 56/2007 – This 2007 legislation specifically mandates government websites meet AA standards. The law applied to national public administration websites from 2010 and regional/local sites from 2012.

Real Decreto 1112/2018 – This royal decree in 2018 updated accessibility requirements, mandating WCAG 2.1 AA compliance. It applies to central government sites.

So currently, Spanish national and regional government websites are legally required to conform to Level AA or higher. 

For private companies, the situation is more complex:

  • The Ley General requires private organizations provide accessible information and communication channels. But websites are not directly addressed.
  • Failure to meet WCAG 2.1 AA is unlikely to automatically mean a website is discriminatory. But inaccessibility could contribute to discrimination.
  • For consumer-focused private companies, not meeting accessibility standards risks violating consumer protection laws. 
  • Banking and insurance companies were required to have accessible websites by 2021 under Ley 56/2007.

So in summary, there is currently no overall Spanish law requiring private sector website accessibility. But legal obligations may arise indirectly in some cases. Expectations are increasing.

Why Website Accessibility Matters

Aside from legal compliance, there are many good reasons to make websites accessible:

  • Expanding your audience reach – 1.8 million Spaniards have a disability. An accessible site allows them to use it.
  • Meeting social responsibility goals around inclusion and equal opportunity.
  • Improving search engine optimization and performance. Accessible sites are better for SEO.
  • Reducing liability risks in discrimination claims.
  • Demonstrating commitment to diversity, ethics and human rights.
  • Improving usability and conversion rates – accessible sites work better for all users.

Looking Ahead 

While the current legal situation is complex, Spain is clearly committed to accessibility. Requirements for the public sector are well-established, and private companies face increasing responsibility. 

Following WCAG 2.1 AA is the safest bet. Staying ahead of evolving regulations ensures your website works for all users and future-proofs your organization.

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