Web Accessibility in the heart of the Disability Movement’s meeting in Ireland

24 February 2013

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. Last December, the European Commission released a legislative proposal on the accessibility of public bodies’ websites.

In the framework of EDF’s Board meeting taking place in Dublin, Ireland, on 23-24 February, EDF and Disability Federation Ireland (DFI) in cooperation with the National Disability Authority of Ireland, organise a seminar entitled: ‘Accessibility of Public Websites – legislative and practical perspectives’.

The Irish Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Pat Rabbitte will open the seminar, which will focus on the scope of the Commission’s legislative proposal, its limitations and possible avenues to extend it in order to cover more areas. The issue of enforcement mechanisms will be discussed, as well as the reporting methodology that will be further approved.


The seminar will be chaired by John Dolan, Chief Executive Officer of the Disability Federation of Ireland, while speakers will include:

  • Rodolfo Cattani, EDF Secretary and Chair of the EDF ICT Email Expert Group

  • Donal Rice, Senior Design Advisor, ICT, National Disability Authority of Ireland

  • Susanna Laurin, FunkaNu, Sweden

  • Shadi Abou-Zahra, World Wide Web Consortium, Activity Lead-Accessibility Initiative International Program Office

‘The right to information is a fundamental one, without which a society cannot have educated and active citizens. Nowadays more than ever, information is linked to and circulated by the internet and other information and communication technologies. There is no doubt that without accessible websites, 80 million European with disabilities are automatically excluded from their right to be informed and active citizens. That is unacceptable. We want equal access to information like all other citizens, as the UN CRPD foresees and the EU has to make sure it complies with its principles. The current proposal for the directive on web accessibility must be amended in order to include all public websites and publicly funded websites providing services to citizens ’, underlines EDF Secretary, Rodolfo Cattani.

John Dolan, CEO of the Disability Federation of Ireland, stated ‘We are delighted that this discussion is taking place in Ireland, particularly as Dublin develops its master plan to join New York, Barcelona and London as a centre for digital excellence. Across Europe broadband penetration has risen to 72%, therefore it is vital that we take all measures to close the digital divide by ensuring that people with disabilities have equality of access to the internet and in particular public websites. We welcome our European colleagues to a discussion around the proposal as it stands and to highlight the need to broaden the scope beyond public sector websites, if people with disabilities and older people are not to be left behind in Europe.’


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