What is the European Accessibility Act?
In 2019, a directive was implemented in the EU by law, requiring private and corporate websites, apps, interactive information screens and self-service terminals to be accessible to all users. Since then, all EU Member States have been looking at how they will implement and monitor the Directive, as well as what fines need to be enforced in their countries. They are all required to report back by 28 June 2022.
The private sector will then have 3 years, by 28 June 2025, to make its digital content available to an agreed standard in the EU.
Although much of it is vague until we hear back from all EU member states, there are important things we already know.
The European Commission states “The European Accessibility Act covers products and services identified as important for people with disabilities, while they are likely to have different accessibility requirements across EU countries.”
These products and services are listed as:
- Computer and operating systems
- ATMs and ticket machines, as well as check-in machines
- TV equipment related to digital TV services
- Telephone companies and related equipment
- Access to audio and visual media services, such as television and consumer equipment
- Air, bus, rail and waterborne passenger transport services
- Banking services
This covers all organisations working in SAAS (software as a service), technology, tourism, travel, utilities, finance and retail.
The only exclusion for now is micro-organisations, which in Europe is defined as a company with less than 10 employees and a turnover of less than €2 million.
In June 2019, the EU published this EAA:
- On 28 June 2022, EU Member States must turn this Directive into a Regulation
- On 28 June 2022, EU Member States must start applying the measures
- 2030 is the deadline for services to stop using inaccessible products that were already in use before 28 June 2025
- 2030 is also the year when EU Member States must start reporting the law
The business case for accessibility
Aside from potential EAA lawsuits in Europe, there are other, perhaps more compelling reasons why accessibility is good for business.
It is estimated that 75% of disabled people will click away from a page that is not accessible.
Having an inclusive site enables people to learn about you, as well as opening up your business to more customers and a wider audience. It can also show that you understand the needs of people with disabilities, which in the long run can provide feedback and experiences that can help with learning and continuous improvement.