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European Commission agree to make websites and apps more accessible

European Commission agree to make websites and apps more accessible

Negotiators of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission have just this month agreed on the first EU-wide rules to make the websites and mobile apps of public sector bodies more accessible.

In the world of web, these adjustments are about introducing steps to make a website or service accessible for people with visual impairments, manual dexterity issues or learning difficulties.

The internet has become a key way of accessing and providing information and services, it is now crucial we ensure absolutely everybody can do so, regardless of ability. Accessibility enables people with disabilities to understand, navigate, interact with and contribute to websites and apps.

Statistics tell us that about 80 million people in the EU are affected by a disability. This figure is expected to increase to 120 million by 2020 as the EU population ages.

The Directive will cover public sector bodies' websites and mobile apps, this could be administrations, courts and police departments or public hospitals, universities and libraries. They will be accessible for all citizens - in particular the blind, hard of hearing, deaf, and those with low vision and functional disabilities.

Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, is understandably all for the agreement and said: "Tonight's agreement is an important step towards a Digital Single Market, which is about removing barriers so that all Europeans can get the best from the digital world."

The Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, Günther H. Oettinger, was equally enthusiastic: "It is not acceptable that millions of European citizens are left behind in the digital society. The agreement that we have just reached will ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the internet and mobile apps."

The following is the agreed text of the Directive:

- covers websites and mobile apps of public sector bodies with a limited number of exceptions (e.g. broadcasters, livestreaming).

- refers to the standards to make websites and mobile apps more accessible. For example, such standards foresee that there should be a text for images or that websites can be browsed without a mouse which can be difficult to use for some people with disabilities.

- requires regular monitoring and reporting of public sector websites and mobile apps by Member States. These reports have to be communicated to the Commission and to be made public. The Directive on web accessibility along with the European Accessibility Act proposed in December 2015 (press release) which covers a much wider number of products and services, are both part of the efforts of the Commission to help people with disabilities to participate fully in society.

The text will now have to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council. After that it will be published in the Official Journal and will officially enter into force. Member States will have 21 months to transpose the text into their national legislation.

So many people avoid using the vast amount of support and opportunities available to them online, all because of unnecessary barriers they are faced with. These can be avoided. If you want to lead in improving accessibility, we can help you with that, a good place to start is to get in touch with us.

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Wednesday May 25 2016 10:33 AM


Tags: website accessibility online-law europeancommission


Comments [1]








Comments

Saturday September 24 2016 14:46

1. Free Range Websites

The Internet should be accessible to everyone. With vision impairments or other disabilities. This should have been done decades ago.



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