Public Sector EU Web sites Should Now Be Accessible

Author: European Disability Forum (EDF) (i): Contact:

Published: 09/25/2020: (Rev. 2020-09-27)

Table of contents and important points:

All European public authorities are now required by law to have accessible websites for all members of the public, including people with disabilities.

We have come a long way to make the internet accessible, and people with disabilities have worked tirelessly for tough legislation, clear standards and better technology.

Focusing on compliance is only a first step, and public bodies should also offer more comprehensive online services through their websites and mobile apps.

Main digestion

From 23 September 2020, all European public bodies will be required by law to have websites that are accessible to all members of the public, including people with disabilities. EDF is launching a survey to measure whether this has happened.

The Internet Accessibility Directive, adopted in 2016, sets September 23, 2020 as the date by which all public sector websites in the EU must be accessible to people with disabilities.

To celebrate this important day for digital accessibility and participation in the EU, we organized an online discussion on the Internet Accessibility Directive together with the Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology of the European Commission. Key stakeholders highlighted the achievements and remaining challenges in making web accessibility practical from a variety of perspectives, including policy makers, national governments, activists, academia, accessibility professionals and of course people with disabilities.

During the event, we launched a survey ( among members of the disability community in Europe to ask about their experience of accessing public sector websites. This survey is available in English, French and Spanish. The aim of this survey is to determine the real impact of EU law on the life experiences of people with disabilities in accessing public online services. Questions are also asked about the usefulness of the accessibility statements to be placed on all public sector websites, as well as the feedback and enforcement mechanisms set out in the policy.

In the event, Helena Dalli, EU Commissioner for Gender Equality, opened the discussion and noted that;

“Public sector agency websites must be accessible thanks to the Internet Accessibility Directive. This will change the lives of millions of people with disabilities and open up new opportunities for them. Together we can bridge the digital divide and build a Union of equality”.

Dita Charanzová, Vice-President of the European Parliament and rapporteur for the Directive on Internet Accessibility, recalled that the original proposal only included 12 online services. “I learned from this file never to give up a fight worth fighting,” she said, promising to remain an ally for people with disabilities in the European Parliament.

Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum, welcomed everyone and noted that;

“We have come a long way to make the Internet accessible and people with disabilities have worked tirelessly for tough legislation, clear standards and better technology. But this is only one step in the long road to equal access and rights for everyone All EU citizens. We will continue to work hard so that EU policies finally ensure full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and that the European Union and all Member States properly apply all EU laws on accessibility and equality. “

In his keynote address, Internet accessibility expert Bart Simons emphasized that focusing on compliance with the law is only a first step and that public authorities should also offer more inclusive online services through their websites and mobile apps.

Clipart image of a laptop surrounded by icons and symbols of online tool and electronic devices.

Two panel discussions examined the successes and remaining challenges related to the Internet Accessibility Directive as well as practical applications and solutions to ensure its requirements.

  • Gudrun Stock, Deputy Head of Unit at DG CNECT, European Commission, gave an overview of the Internet Accessibility Directive and explained the implementing acts and standards that were developed to support the implementation of the law. She also indicated that the Commission was about to start the first review of the Directive.
  • Holmberg Åsa and Elisabeth Aguilera, specialists in accessibility, shared the experiences of public authorities in Sweden and emphasized the importance and challenges of the interface between accessibility on the Internet and public procurement.
  • Stefania Mircheska, expert in e-government strategies and policies, presented her experiences working with people with disabilities to effectively implement the directive in Bulgaria.
  • Shadi Abou-Zahra, specialist in accessibility strategy and technology at W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative, presented various open source tools that were developed to support the implementation of the directive, such as the online accessibility course from W3C and UNESCO . He stressed that accessibility is not limited to technical solutions, but also awareness and training.
  • Stein Erik Skotkjerra, Accessibility Expert, CEO of Inklusio, explained how accessibility can be measured while ensuring user participation in the process.

In the second panel, Armony Altinier, researcher, founder and CEO of “Koena” discussed what practical changes need to be done. She noted that the lack of digital accessibility awareness and education persist in France.

  • George Rhodes, Digital Accessibility Specialist and Director of “All Able”, added Ms. Altinier’s presentation without the significant differences between the countries he saw when reviewing the accessibility statements in several countries including the UK, Spain, Denmark and Luxembourg. had established.
  • “Another journey begins today,” said Alejandro Moledo, EDF Policy Coordinator when he launched the EDF survey on disabled access to public websites.
  • Finally, Lene Naesager, Director of Strategy and Corporate Communications at the European Commission, presented how the European Commission is putting the principle of “design for all” into practice when creating its websites.

The discussion concluded with a video address from Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, who highlighted the key role of digital accessibility and the web directive as a pioneer for general accessibility and predicted digital accessibility expertise as a key competitive advantage for ICT professionals in the internal market . The replay of the event will be available on the EDF website.

Previous information:

(i) Source / Reference: European Disability Forum (EDF). Disabled World makes no guarantees or warranties in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length.

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Page quote:

Journal: Disabled World. Language: English. Author: European Disability Forum (EDF). Electronic publication date: 2020-09-25. Last revision: 2020-09-27. Reference Title: “EU Public Sector Websites Must Be Accessible Now” Source: EU Public Sector Websites Must Be Accessible Now. Abstract: All public sector bodies in the European public sector are now legally required to have accessible websites for all members of the public, including people with disabilities. Retrieved on December 13, 2018 from – reference category number: DW # 110-13881.

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