European Accessibility Act – The EU Directive You Should Know

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The European Accessibility Act is a significant step towards greater inclusivity and accessibility for all citizens within the European Union. This directive has substantial implications for businesses, public entities, and individuals as it aims to establish uniform accessibility standards for all EU member states. It is crucial to understand the provisions and requirements to navigate the constantly changing accessibility landscape in Europe. In this article, we explore the key aspects of the European Accessibility Act, revealing why it is significant and how it affects various sectors within the EU.

What Are the EU Web Accessibility Directive and the European Accessibility Act?

EU Web Accessibility Directive

This mandate, formally known as Order (EU) 2016/2102, requires open division websites and versatile applications to be available to all clients, counting those with incapacities. It sets out specific accessibility requirements for websites and mobile apps of public sector bodies, such as government agencies, local authorities, and other publicly funded entities. The aim of this directive is to ensure that all users can use digital services provided by the public sector, regardless of their abilities. The administrations ought to be detectable, operable, reasonable, and vigorous.

European Accessibility Act

The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is a broader legislative initiative that goes beyond digital accessibility to address accessibility challenges across various products and services. Enacted in 2019, the EAA aims to improve the functioning of the internal market for accessible products and services, making them more available to people with disabilities and elders. It covers a wide extent of:
  • merchandise and administrations
  • counting computers and working frameworks
  • ATMs
  • ticketing machines
  • smartphones
  • TVs
  • managing an account administration
  • e-books, and more.
The EAA sets standard accessibility requirements that manufacturers, service providers, and public authorities must meet, enhancing the accessibility of products and services across the EU. These directives reflect the EU’s commitment to fostering a more inclusive society by removing barriers and ensuring equal access to information, goods, and services for all individuals, regardless of their abilities. Anmated picture of web project executed by three people

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Who Must Comply With Them?

The EU Web Accessibility Directive applies mainly to public sector bodies within EU member states, including government agencies, local authorities, public hospitals, universities, and other organizations that provide essential services to the public. These substances must guarantee that their websites and versatile applications comply with particular accessibility rules stated in the directive. The European Accessibility Act applies to a broader range of entities, including those from both public and private sectors. This act is specifically aimed at manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers who offer certain products and services in the EU market. The act outlines the accessibility requirements that these entities must comply with when designing, manufacturing, or providing specific products and services. This includes everything from consumer electronics and household appliances to banking services and e-books. In summary, the European Union (EU) Web Accessibility Directive and the European Accessibility Act are two crucial legislative measures that guarantee free access even to computerized substances and administrations for all individuals in the EU, including those with disabilities. animated picture of three women using web services

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When Do They Take Effect?

The EU Web Accessibility Directive came into force on September 23, 2018. Member states were given until September 23, 2020, to transpose their provisions into national legislation. The European Parliament received the European Openness Act on April 13, 2019. The act requires part states to consolidate its arrangements into their national laws and directions within three a long time of its passage on June 28, 2019. It is important to clarify that online businesses should be compliant with EAA by no later than June 2025.

How Is the EU Web Accessibility Directive Different From WCAG?

The EU Web Accessibility Directive and WCAG are related but distinct. The EU Web Accessibility Directive aims to make public sector websites and mobile apps within the EU accessible to all users, especially those with disabilities. These websites and applications must meet accessibility standards and criteria. The WCAG is a collection of guidelines created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to establish a well-known international standard for web accessibility. It provides technical suggestions and practical techniques for producing web content that is accessible, covering a variety of online platforms beyond the public sector. While the EU Web Accessibility Directive stimulates accessibility standards for public sector websites and apps in EU member states, WCAG offers general guidelines and technical specifications for web content worldwide. animated picture of a man entering the web and using different phone apps

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How to Make Your Website Compliant?

Complying with accessibility standards, such as the EU Web Accessibility Directive, involves several essential steps.

Audit Your Website

It’s essential to conduct a comprehensive accessibility audit of your website to detect any existing barriers. This includes evaluating navigation, content structure, multimedia elements, forms, and interactive features.

Implement Accessibility Features

Revise your website based on the audit results. This may include improving keyboard navigation, adding alternative text to images, ensuring proper heading structure, providing captions and transcripts for multimedia, and improving form accessibility.

Adopt WCAG Guidelines

It’s essential to make your website accessible to everyone. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a great starting point for achieving this. Use the POUR principles (perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust) to improve accessibility.

Provide Accessibility Statements

It is important to communicate your website’s accessibility commitment by providing an accessibility statement. This document should outline your compliance efforts, explain any limitations, and provide contact information for users to report accessibility issues.

Train Your Team

Educate your web development and content creation teams about accessibility best practices. Make sure they understand the importance of designing and maintaining websites that are accessible and provide ongoing training to stay up-to-date on evolving standards.

Test Regularly

It’s important to test your website continuously for accessibility compliance. Utilize automated testing tools, manual testing methods, and user feedback to identify and address any accessibility issues promptly.

Stay Informed

Stay updated on accessibility regulations, standards, and best practices to ensure compliance with requirements. By prioritizing accessibility in your website development process and following these steps, you can significantly improve user experience.

How Do You Test Your Website, and What Do You Avoid?

It’s a good idea to have a thorough testing strategy that covers both automated scans and manual assessments. Here’s how to try your website and the most common pitfalls to avoid.

Automated Testing

Utilize robotized openness testing devices like Hatchet, WAVE, or Beacon to filter your site for potential issues related to HTML markup, ARIA properties, color differentiation, and more.

Manual Testing

Supplement mechanized looks with manual testing to distinguish nuanced openness issues. Conduct console route, screen peruser, and center administration testing for intensive assessment.

Semantic HTML

Use appropriate HTML elements for different types of content. Avoid non-semantic elements for layout. Follow best practices.

Keyboard Accessibility

Test your website’s keyboard accessibility to ensure all interactive elements can be accessed and activated using only the keyboard. Avoid relying solely on mouse-based interactions or custom JavaScript event handlers that may not be keyboard accessible.

Color Contrast

Ensure readable text by checking color contrast ratios and avoiding inaccessible color combinations. This is especially important for users with low vision or color blindness.

Multimedia Accessibility

Make mixed media substances available to debilitated clients. Give content options for pictures, captions for recordings, and graphic content for sound records.

Form Accessibility

Test website forms for accessibility. Provide clear labels, proper markup, and error messages.

Responsive Design

Ensure your website is responsive and accessible on all devices. Test its responsiveness with different devices and resolutions to identify any issues.

Avoid Accessibility Overlays

Don’t rely on accessibility overlay tools for website accessibility. They can introduce new problems and fail to address the root cause of accessibility barriers.

User Testing

Test your website with users who have disabilities. Their feedback can help you identify accessibility barriers that may be missed by automated/manual testing. Ensuring your website meets accessibility standards and regulations is easy with these testing methods and tips to avoid common pitfalls. animated picture of people-drawing-web-page-elements-smartphone-

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The European Accessibility Act and the EU Web Accessibility Directive are crucial steps towards promoting inclusivity and equal access to digital content throughout the European Union. These directives aim to promote a more inclusive online environment by mandating accessibility standards for websites and digital platforms, removing barriers for individuals with disabilities. Businesses and organizations that meet these standards not only enhance accessibility but also demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Continuing vigilance in maintaining accessibility standards and prioritizing user inclusivity will be essential for fostering an accessible and equitable digital landscape for all.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Consequences of Non-compliance With EU Accessibility Directives?

Non-compliance with EU accessibility directives can result in legal consequences, including fines and legal action. Additionally, failing to meet accessibility standards can lead to the exclusion of individuals with disabilities from accessing your products or services, damage to your reputation, and loss of potential customers.

When Do the EU Accessibility Directives Take Effect?

The EU Web Accessibility Directive took effect in September 2018, requiring public sector websites and mobile apps to comply with accessibility standards.

To Whom Does the European Accessibility Act Apply?

The Act applies to businesses and organizations providing products and services in the European Union. This includes manufacturers, service providers, public authorities, and other entities producing or delivering goods and services.

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