European Parliament agrees on new European accessibility directive for websites and mobile applications

The European Parliament reached an informal deal on a new directive to make public sector websites and applications accessible for persons with disabilities. The draft requires compliance with European accessibility standards and additional guidelines to provide descriptions for non-textual content for persons with vision disabilities as well as content that can be presented in a wider range of devices.

If it is approved, the directive will start being enforced 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal. Later on, member states will have 21 months to adopt the regulation for websites and 33 months in the case of mobile applications.

The directive will apply to websites and apps of public sector bodies on the state, regional and local levels. Associations that serve general interests such as municipalities will also be held accountable to the new regulation. It will also cover intranets from different companies in order to allow employees and students to access information.

However, third party content is excluded from the directive in order to avoid potential undue burdens on public sector bodies. For example, user-generated content from twitter feeds or live audio-visual will not be required to comply. In order to solve this gap, individuals will be empowered to request specific information on demand if content is inaccessible.

The draft is expected to promote accessibility-related products and services in the EU market thus reducing the costs of developing these products. Benefits would be enjoyed by developers and software tool producers as well as training providers. Both small and medium-sized enterprises are expected to contribute in order to become competitive in this market. This will make it easier both for the private and public sector to provide digital accessibility solutions for persons with disabilities.

Additional Sources: GAATES