The EU just adopted a directive on the accessibility of websites and mobile apps
The European Parliament adopted today the ‘Directive on the Accessibility of Websites and Mobile Applications of Public Sector Bodies’ (Web Directive). From now on, all websites and mobile applications, including the electronic documents and multimedia, of public authorities in Europe have to be accessible to a wide range of users including 80 million people with disabilities. This is a crucial milestone to achieve an inclusive digital society in which people with disabilities and other users have access to online services and information on an equal footing to other people; this is a right enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) that the EU has ratified.
In cases when some parts are not made accessible, public websites will need to explain why in a mandatory accessibility statement. There will also be a mechanism for citizens to request the content they cannot access. Regular monitoring and reporting by EU member states have also been agreed, which is indispensable for the success of this legislation. Nevertheless, the Directive allows some exceptions such as public broadcasters’ websites and live audiovisual streaming. EDF expects that the gaps left in the Web Directive will be covered in other EU legislation in progress, such as the European Accessibility Act or the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.
During recent years, EDF, together with its members and partner organisations, has fought for accessibility of websites and for the adoption of a meaningful directive to make this happen in Europe. The European Commission’s initial proposal for the Web Directive, published in 2012, included only 12 categories of online services and very soft enforcement measures. Thanks to the collaboration with the Parliament and the Council, an improved text of a truly future proof and meaningful Directive has now been adopted.