IS-17802: Understanding India’s Landmark Accessibility Legislation 

The Indian Accessibility standard, IS 17802, has been legally implemented in India. This is a big step towards ensuring that web accessibility becomes a reality in India. Let’s look at why this standard is important for your business and what steps you can take to stay compliant. 

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Published By

Saef Iqbal

Published On

April 19, 2024

India has taken a significant step forward in promoting web accessibility by legally enacting its accessibility standard IS-17802. The standard defines the accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) products and services and is aligned with global guidelines such as WCAG and Section 508. It is essential to understand the provisions of this standard, and businesses need to comply with it to promote inclusivity and accessibility for all. By complying with the standard, businesses can ensure that their products and services are accessible to everyone.

What is IS-17802?

The Indian standard IS-17802 specifies how to make content accessible by outlining accessibility requirements. This standard, officially titled “Accessibility for the ICT Products and Services” is maintained by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the national standards body of India.

The standard is bifurcated into two parts: IS-17802 (Part 1): Requirements and IS-17802 (Part 2): Determination of Conformance. It is primarily aimed at helping people with disabilities easily access the internet, but it also benefits all end-users by improving the usability of websites. It was legally enforced on May 11, 2023, when the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) notified the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Amendment) Rules, 2023, amending the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules, 2017.

IS 17802 aligns with global accessibility standards and guidelines such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act, and the European Standard EN-301 549.

What sets IS-17802 apart is its consideration of India’s unique needs, including provisions for regional languages. It serves as a unified document, applicable to a wide array of products and services. From open and closed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to web and non-web documents, hardware, software, emergency relay services, and even the accessibility of support and help documentation, IS-17802 encompasses all facets of digital accessibility. 

Let us understand both parts of the IS 17802 standard in detail. 

IS-17802 (Part 1): Requirements

This part of the standard outlines the specific requirements for making digital content accessible. The requirements are based on four key principles of accessibility: perceivability, operability, understandability, and robustness. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Text Alternatives: Images, audio, and videos must be accompanied by descriptive or alternative text to facilitate understanding for those with visual impairments.
  • Keyboard Navigation: Users who cannot use a mouse should be able to navigate websites using only keyboard inputs.
  • Color Contrast: Clear color differentiation is necessary to aid users with visual impairments in distinguishing content.
  • Focus Management: To ensure websites are easy to navigate, it’s important to have a consistent order for focus.
  • Compatibility with Assistive Technologies: Ensure that the website or application can be easily used with screen readers and other assistive technologies.

IS 17802 provides clarity on the equivalence between conformance with WCAG 2.0 and 2.1 at Level AA and specific clauses within the Indian standard. For instance, it says that meeting WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards corresponds to satisfying clauses encompassing text alternatives, time-based media, keyboard accessibility, and more.

Likewise, adherence to WCAG 2.1 Level AA aligns with fulfilling all clauses related to perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust principles outlined in IS 17802, in addition to the conformance requirements specified in clause 9.6.

You can read the IS 17802 Part 1 document here: Accessibility for the ICT Products and Services Part 1

IS-17802 (Part 2): Determination of Conformance

This part of the standard provides detailed procedures for evaluating the compliance of any product and/or service against the requirements outlined in Part 1. It describes the criteria that must be met for an ICT product or service to claim conformance with the standard and outlines the process for assessing and documenting conformance. 

The conformance assessment process involves a systematic examination of the ICT product or service to determine the extent to which it conforms to the requirements of the standard. This process includes identifying the accessibility features of the product or service, evaluating the effectiveness of these features, and documenting the results of the evaluation.

You can read Part 2 of IS 17802 here: Accessibility for the ICT Products and Services Part 2

What Steps You Can Take to Ensure Digital Accessibility 

Ensuring compliance with the IS-17802 standard requires a proactive and comprehensive approach. Here are some steps businesses can take:

  • Understand the Requirements: Familiarize yourself with the IS-17802 standard and its requirements. This includes understanding the guidelines for text alternatives for images and videos, keyboard navigation, color contrast, focus management, and compatibility with assistive technologies
  • Implement Accessibility Features: Incorporate the accessibility requirements outlined in the IS-17802 standard into your digital products and services. This could involve changing your website design, software applications, and mobile apps. 
  • Provide Training: Educate your developers, designers, and content creators about accessibility best practices and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards.
  • Regular Testing: Conduct regular accessibility testing to ensure your digital products and services are compliant with the IS-17802 standard.
  • Seek Expert Guidance: Consider consulting with accessibility experts or hiring an accessibility testing service to ensure your digital products and services are compliant.

The Way Forward 

The implementation of the IS-17802 standard is a crucial milestone in promoting digital inclusion. For further information about IS-17802 and how to develop more user-friendly digital experiences, please contact our team at Pivotal Accessibility. Our team of accessibility experts, well-versed in WCAG, Section 508, EN 301 549 can assist in simplifying your path to accessibility.