NGOs request EU ministers to improve the European Web Accessibility Directive

Since 2012, EU governments have been working on the elaboration of a Directive on Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies’ Websites. Last December 2015, the EU Presidency approved the Council’s text to be further negotiated with the Parliament as the basis for creating the final mandate.

However, the Directive’s proposal has not yet addressed serious considerations required to promote universal accessibility to public web services. According to an Open Letter presented by 20 NGOs (including the European Blind Union, European Disability Forum, AFE Platform Europe and ANEC, among others), approving the current regulation as it is would stop millions of persons with disabilities and older citizens in Europe from accessing digital contents and equally participating in the labor market.

Some of the main concerns expressed in the open letter are exemptions related to intranet services, downloadable documents and publicly funded websites. Whereas the EU proposal does consider state, regional and local government services, it does not include public services provided by private organizations such as energy, water or transportation. Additionally, the document asks EU representatives to address digital contents in mobile formats and to turn accessibility into a prerequisite for investing government funds to sponsor the development of digital platforms.

Additional Sources: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites, GAATES