Web Accessibility: No more time to waste! If not now, when?

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Last week, the Transport, Telecommunication and Energy Council met and discussed the state of play of the Web Directive. Unfortunately, during the last two presidencies of the EU, there has been no further progress on the Proposal for a Directive on the Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies’ Websites in Council. European Disability Forum (EDF) wants to see the forthcoming Telecommunications Council conclusions include a clear political commitment to ensure rapid progress on this Directive during the forthcoming Italian Presidency. This would make a real difference to 80 million Europeans with disabilities.

The Parliament’s report on the proposal for a Directive on the Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies’ Websites introduced extremely valuable changes to the Commission’s proposal. These changes would benefit the majority of citizens across the EU and would boost the web-developing European marketplace, giving a perfect example of how a piece of legislation can contribute to inclusive growth in the digital field.

EDF regrets that the Greek Presidency failed to take this very important legislation further, and hopes that the forthcoming Italian presidency will treat the web directive as a priority.

What do we need?

Non-binding political initiatives failed to make the web accessible for persons with disabilities. That is why this directive must cover all public websites as well as public services provided online, regardless of who owns the website, either it is a public or private entity. It must include effective and strong enforcement measures, as well as a monitoring and reporting mechanism that involves persons with disabilities and their representative organisations. Last but not least, it must take into account the new ways and platforms for surfing the web and deliver public services, such as apps or websites designed for smartphones and tablets.

Why is it important?

80 million Europeans with disabilities, 150 million aged over 50, and many citizens without proficient ICT skills would benefit from this legislation. Furthermore, the market of web-developers, which employs more than 1 million people, would be able to work across the EU, and governments will save money as there would be a reduced need to establish costly alternative means to provide information or services because of the inaccessibility of their websites.

In February the first European Standard on accessibility for ICT products and services was adopted. It includes a dedicated chapter with the accessibility guidelines that a website must follow to be accessible: the worldwide recognized WCAG level AA. It’s time to put this in practice!

Remember the joint statement of EDF, AGE Platform Europe and ANEC!

Campaign with us on social media

EDF encourages its members, partners and individuals who understand the importance of the adoption of such legislation, to support its campaign on social media:

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