Web accessibility means
that everyone – including people with disabilities – can use the internet
independently to browse, navigate and interact. In 2012, the European
Commission released a proposal
for a Web Directive on the accessibility of the public sector bodies'
websites. The proposal has been discussed at the European Parliament and at the EU
The Council, which is composed of
representatives of all EU member states, has proposed to
significantly reduce the scope of the Web Directive, excluding websites of public broadcasters, schools, kindergartens,
universities, nurseries or NGOs. The Council also proposed to exclude some web content such as the live audiovisual,
as well as intranets and extranets. Excluding intranets and extranets will
prevent persons with disabilities from being able to work in organisations that
rely on the use of these types of “private websites” in their everyday work.
These exemptions will
mean limited access and unfair treatment
for many people- including older people and people with disabilities. Because
of this situation, EDF has worked together with a range of partners and members
to advocate for the EU to adopt a meaningful
Our open letter, launched today and signed by 20 civil society networks, representing consumers, older
people and people from a range of representative organisations of persons with
disabilities, expresses our strong opposition to the far-reaching
exemptions proposed by the Member States. These exemptions will prevent
millions of citizens from accessing digital information and online services
which are nowadays taken for granted. The websites of private entities used to
deliver a public service such as postal services or transportation, should also
be covered by the Directive. These online
public services, such as paying taxes, accessing academic materials or buying a
train ticket, are increasingly accessed through mobile devices and
applications, therefore to the Directive
must ensure accessibility of both mobile web and mobile applications.
We call on the governments of all EU member states to ensure that the 80 million persons with disabilities and the 150 million older people who live in Europe, have access to the online public services that are provided to other citizens in the EU, and that public money never funds inaccessible content. Equal access to information and communication technologies is a human right enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
It is not acceptable to adopt legislation that would potentially deny millions of citizens access to the digital world we live in today.
It is not acceptable to legalise digital barriers to the right to work because of inaccessible employment web editors, intranets, extranets, etc.
It is not acceptable to exclude millions of people from fully participating in society.
As society, the economy and public services become more and more digitalised, it is critical that no one is left behind. Governments have an obligation to create a level playing field, with equal access for all.
We call on the EU member states to not miss this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities and older people and to adopt a meaningful Web Directive.
The open letter is signed by: European Disability Forum, European Union of the Deaf, AGE Platform Europe, European Federation of Hard of Hearing People, ANEC, European Network of Independent Living , European Blind Union, Autism Europe, European Alliance of Neuromuscular disorders association, International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, European Federation of Parents of Hearing Impaired Children, Inclusion Europe, European Dyslexia Association, European Network of (Ex)Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, Action Européenne des Handicapés, International Federation of Persons with Physical Disabilitity, European Deafblind Network, Disabled Peoples’ International European Region, European Association of Cochlear Implant Users, Retina International.
Alejandro Moledo | EDF New Technologies & Innovation officer | firstname.lastname@example.org