European Accessibility Act

In April 2019 the EU approved the European Accessibility Act (EAA) in order to require digital products and services accessibility.
The EN 301549 is a policy document carried out by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the EU agency that regulates the digital area. It defines official standards for web accessibility in Europe.

validity

When did the EAA and EN 301549 come into force?

Establishing a European web accessibility policy has been a long and complicated process. Since the early 2000s, EU authorities have made political decisions that address the needs of citizens with disabilities.

requirements

What are the requirements of the EAA?

The EAA does not define specific accessibility standards or compliance requirements. This is because it seeks a certain flexibility within the law.

The EAA’s official Fact Sheet states that the law “will not impose detailed technical solutions that dictate how to make” a website compliant, although you can find general requirements and non-binding examples within the legislation.

For example, the EAA requires that no website or digital service be limited to a single mode of interaction, so audio content must be accessible through captions and written texts through a screen reader.

application

To what products and services does the EAA apply?

The EAA is deliberately designed so that it is not a general law that affects all the public sector. The EAA clearly defines which product and service categories are subject to the new law.
These include:

  • Computers and operating systems
  • Telephone services and related equipment
  • Audio-visual media services, such as television broadcasting and related consumer equipment.
  • Services related to air, bus, rail, and other passenger transport
  • Banking services
  • eBooks
  • eCommerce

Although originally aimed at public and governmental groups, it also affects private companies. Companies that provide services for government agencies in Europe will need to be sure that their accessibility standards are adequate. The EAA also requires that all online business services be accessible to people with disabilities.

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