Agreement on the Web Accessibility Directive

14 March 2016

EDF welcomes the agreement reached last night among the EU institutions (Parliament, Council and Commission) on the proposed Directive on web accessibility. It is a crucial milestone to achieve an inclusive digital society, in which 80 million persons with disabilities will be able to participate on equal basis with others. Public websites and apps should no longer exclude anyone.

Based on the article of MEP Dita Charanzová, Parliament’s rapporteur of the web accessibility Directive, and the Commission’s press release, EDF is delighted to announce that the main demands and expectations of the disability movement for this crucial piece of legislation have been listened to and taken on board. Once the final text is made public, we hope for a swift approval from the Parliament and Council, and a rapid and effective transposition and implementation at national level.

This legislation is a great achievement for persons with disabilities: all public sector bodies’ websites and mobile applications (apps) will be made accessible, including the electronic documents and multimedia. In cases when they are not made accessible, public websites will need to explain why, in a mandatory accessibility statement. Citizens will have a mechanism to request the content they could not access. Regular monitoring and reporting by Member States have also been agreed, which is indispensable for the success of this legislation.

During more than three years of advocacy work, EDF in collaboration with its members, as well as other civil society organisations and partners, have pushed hard for improving the original Commission’s proposal presented in December 2012, which only included 12 public services on websites and very soft enforcement measures. Thanks to the collaboration with the Parliament and the Council, a truly future proof and meaningful Directive can be approved in the coming months, making a real change for persons with disabilities.

Yannis Vardakastanis, President of EDF: "Accessibility is a Human Rights issue. It is a condition for participation in society, for education, for employment, and for access to public services. This Directive is an important step in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities within the EU. The EU, and all EU members states should make all of their public services accessible, including those delivered through the web, including through apps. This Directive provides for a harmonised way to do this within the EU, and will assist the EU, and its member states in meeting their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities".

Unfortunately some exemptions will remain in the Directive, such as public broadcasters’ websites and live audiovisual streaming, and therefore EDF will need to continue working with its national members for a correct transposition at national level. Additionally, we will need to ensure that relevant and complementary EU legislation, such as the European Accessibility Act and the revision of the Audiovisual Media Service Directive will properly address what is not covered by the Web Accessibility Directive.

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EDF's work on web accessibility

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