What’s new with the European Accessibility Act

These are busy days for #a11y policy.

In addition to the directive on the accessibility of public sector web sites and apps, the EU has been busy drafting another accessibility policy, the European Accessibility Act.

This proposed act would harmonise technical standards and accessibility requirements for hardware and physical systems across Europe, including

  • computers and operating systems
  • ATMs, ticketing and check-in machines
  • smartphones
  • TV equipment related to digital television services
  • telephony services and related equipment
  • audiovisual media services such as television broadcast and related consumer equipment
  • services related to air, bus, rail and waterborne passenger transport
  • banking services

The act would also impact areas directly relevant to web designers and developers, including e-books and e-commerce. Indeed, there was a bit of drama earlier this year concerning plans to exempt e-books and live television broadcasting from the requirements.

This week Euractiv has published a six-part special report exploring the draft Accessibility Act from a variety of angles and perspectives.

I’ll make no attempt to summarise or repeat the stories, but would highly encourage you to read them. Note that some of the content is sponsored by Microsoft.

As for the next steps, E-commerce Europe reports that a draft report is expected in January 2017.

About the author

Heather Burns is a digital law specialist in Glasgow, Scotland. She researches, writes, publishes, consults, and speaks extensively on internet laws and policies which affect the crafts of web design and development. She has been designing and developing web sites since 1997 and has been a professional web site designer since 2007. She holds a postgraduate certification in internet law and policy from the University of Strathclyde. Learn about hiring Heather to write, speak, or consult.