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COMMISSION TAKES A STEP TOWARDS WEB ACCESSIBILITY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

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Visit the European Commission's website 3 December 2012 /// Today the European Commission released a legislative proposal on the accessibility of public websites. Once adopted by the European Parliament and by the Council, it will allow, by 2015, Europeans with disabilities to have equal access to information on websites and benefit from services provided online.

The right of persons with disabilities to have access on an equal basis with others to all information and communications technologies, including internet, is clearly laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), that the EU has ratified. Nevertheless, up until now, only a limited percentage of public websites in the EU are fully accessible for persons with disabilities, while almost all private websites remain inaccessible.

This legislative proposal addresses public sector bodies’ websites, such as those of municipality services, those for income taxes declaration, job search services, education, health related services, etc. It will contribute to ensuring participation of the citizens with disabilities to critical areas of public services, and information on their rights recognising them as equal citizens with others. Legislation at EU level is much welcome as there is now growing evidence that divergent policy approaches to web accessibility in Member States are fragmenting the digital internal market and creating further obstacles to consumers with disabilities.

Having repeatedly stressed that accessibility is a prerequisite for the full participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life, the European Disability Forum (EDF) welcomes the legislative proposal as a first positive step towards the removal of all barriers to access internet products and services in the internal market.

“The disability movement will work with the European Parliament and the Council of the EU to ensure that the final text will be even more far reaching and will include firm obligations for all public websites as well as websites providing services to the public. EDF is also looking forward to working with the European Commission for its implementation in order to make a real difference in the lives of Europeans with Disabilities”, stresses EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis.

“I praise EDF for their engagement and efforts to support the needs of persons with disabilities and for promoting the importance of web-accessibility. I am convinced that EDF together with the other stakeholders will play a vital role in the next phase of the adoption process and continue to support our joint efforts to making web-accessibility a reality in the European Union”, states the Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the digital agenda, Neelie Kroes.

Find the Commission's proposal for a Directive on the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites here

> CONTACT

Lila Sylviti | EDF Communications Officer | lila.sylviti@edf-feph.org



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