Web Accessibility: EDF expresses the view of 80 million persons with disabilities at the meeting of the EP Committee of the Internal Market

25 April 2013
EDF Secretary Rodolfo Cattani at the meeting

On 25 April 2013, the European disability movement was invited to participate in the meeting of the European Parliament Committee of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. As it’s exceptional for Committees to invite or accept external actors in their meetings, EDF embraced this invitation as a good opportunity to bring the perspective of 80 million persons with disabilities on the accessibility of public websites in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Represented by its Secretary, Rodolfo Cattani, EDF underlined during the meeting that access to websites is a pre-condition for access to education, employment, social and cultural life not only for persons with disabilities, but also for many other users including older people.

“More than 2/3 of public bodies’ websites in Europe are not accessible, but the reality is even worse: 92% of websites delivering basic services to citizens are not accessible. A legislation which will permit Europeans with disabilities to fully enjoy the right to information on an equal basis with all the other citizens is needed”, said Rodolfo Cattani stressing the need of changes in the Commission’s current legislative proposal on accessibility of public sectors websites in order to meet the needs of the disability movement in Europe: “The scope of the legislative proposal needs to be enlarged in order to cover all public sector bodies’ websites and websites delivering publicly available services. The current proposal is limited to public sector websites belonging to only 12 categories. The wording of 12 categories is obsolete as the content offered online has strongly increased since 2001 when the list was developed”.

Remember what the European disability movement expects from the web accessibility directive here

BACKGROUND

EDF has engaged in an intense and fruitful dialogue with European parliamentarians since the beginning of the discussions in the European Parliament.

One week ago, on 18 April 2013, EDF took part in a meeting of the European Parliament Disability Intergroup specially dedicated to the proposed directive, a meeting which gathered all parliamentarians involved in the dossier together with several Disability Intergroup MEPs.

The exchange of views showed Parliament’s broad support to the need for EU legislation and its will to amend the proposed directive to make it more ambitious. In particular, the majority of MEPs agreed with EDF that the scope of the directive has to be extended to include all websites delivering publicly available services. MEPs also shared EDF’s view that the legislation, instead of being a costly burden, will bring important economic gains and will represent a benefit for all users.

Indeed, providing services on line easy to access for all is an advantage and economic gain for public administration and companies. In addition, small and medium enterprises developing websites will benefit from an unexploited market and will be able to catch up delay in comparison with regulated markets such as US or Asia. The European Commission estimates the web accessibility market worth 2 billion euros.

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