Everyone should benefit from the opportunities offered by the internet and fully participate in the digital society.
Andrus Ansip, Former Vice President of the European Commission
Web accessibility is an inclusive practice that allows everybody, in particular persons with disabilities or some form of impairment, to perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the online environment. Respecting a few simple accessibility requirements can make a huge difference for everyone.
The European Union is committed to making life better for its citizens and actively promotes inclusion. As more and more aspects of life are moving online, and the internet has become an essential means for communicating, shopping, and accessing information, entertainment and services, this also applies to the digital environment.
- More than 80 million
… the number of people affected by some form of disability, be it sensory, physical, intellectual or mental. With life expectancy on the rise, many of us will acquire impairments as we age.
- Less than 10
.... of websites in Europe accessible for persons with disabilities.
- % 5%
... the share of people in the EU who do not use the internet because of some form of disability.
Web accessibility is an inclusive practice that allows everybody, in particular persons with disabilities or some form of impairment, to perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the online environment.
Respecting a few simple accessibility requirements can make a huge difference for everyone. Examples include having the possibility to read subtitles to a video when the environment is noisy or when you are unable to hear, or listen to a text being read out loud when lighting conditions are not optimal or when you are unable to see.
- Citizens, in all their online activities: as users, consumers or workers.
- Industry, by enlarging its customer base; profiting from a growing web accessibility market.
- Public administrations, by living up to its core tasks: serving everybody through more inclusive services.
What do accessibility requirements mean?
To help people who have impaired vision or hearing, motor difficulties, cognitive impairments or learning disabilities ...
- Perceivable: Information cannot be invisible to all senses.
- Understandable: Users must be able to understand the information and how to operate the website/app.
- Operable: Websites/apps cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform.
- Robust:Content needs to be readable by assistive technologies and other user agents, e.g. a screen reader.
How do accessibility requirements help?
Alice is hard of hearing → captions (subtitles)
Pierre is blind → use of screen reader
Katerina is colour blind → text and images with good contrast ratio
Denis is dyslexic → help to avoid and correct mistakes
Emmi has repetitive stress injury → keyboard navigation
Fabrizio has a cognitive disability → easy, predictable navigation & easy to read content
Common accessibility requirements all over Europe → Harmonised European Standard EN 301 549 V2.1.2 (2018-08).
See the videos Web Accessibility Perspectives
The EU Web Accessibility Directive
Increases digital inclusion by ensuring that the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies are more accessible to users, in particular to persons with disabilities.
Improves the functioning of the internal market by establishing common accessibility requirements for websites and mobile apps all over Europe.
- Websites created after September 2018 will be accessible.
- All websites will be accessible.
- All mobile apps will be accessible.
- Member States report to the European Commission.
- Review of the directive
The Public Sector
- implements the accessibility requirements & responds to user feedback;
- awareness of accessibility & provides training;
- monitors & improves the accessibility of its websites and mobile apps.
- accessible public services;
- an accessibility statement that explains which content is accessible and where to turn in case of problems;
- possibility to flag accessibility issues and ask for accessible alternatives.
Common accessibility requirements
- bring down market barriers and costs for web accessibility solutions;
- foster growth for products and services related to web accessibility;
- encourage spill-over to the private sector.
More on the Web Accessibility Directive
Other EU legislation fostering Digital inclusion
Audiovisual Media Services Directive
- Sign language / subtitling / audio descriptions for both television broadcasting and video on demand.
European Electronic Communications Code
- equivalent services to users with disabilities;
- affordable access to specialised kit for persons with disabilities to use these services;
- alternative channels to reach emergency services (such as real time text, SMS or emergency applications should be available.
- accessible trust services and end-user products (e.g. electronic signature).
Marrakesh Directive and Regulation
access to print works, including e-books, in formats adapted for persons who are blind, visually impaired or those who have reading difficulties (such as dyslexia).
European Accessibility Act
- accessible computers and operating systems;
- ommon accessibility requirements for many key ICT products and services, from checking your bank account to buying concert tickets.
Infographic: Digital Inclusion in the EU
Research and Innovation
The European Commission is funding a wide variety of research and innovation actions to develop technologies that
- enhance the functional capabilities of people with disabilities;
- enable and encourage self-sufficiency to achieve a more autonomous use of information technology.
In the next multiannual financial framework
The Commission aims to:
- Scale up awareness-raising and promote digital accessibility skills;
- Support qualitative and quantitative research on the accessibility of websites and mobile applications;
- Support research to further improve web accessibility by identifying and addressing missing solutions and promoting accessible authoring tools;
- Promote mainstreaming digital accessibility in education;
- Follow technological and market developments and updating the rules if necessary.
Digital Inclusion & Web Accessibility in the European Union
Essential for some, useful for all
As more and more aspects of life are moving online, the internet has become an essential means for communicating, accessing information, entertainment and services. The European Union and the EU Member States take the necessary steps to ensure that people with disabilities do not encounter barriers when accessing or interacting with the online environment, so that all users have equal access to information and services.
Digital Inclusion & Web Accessibility in the European Union by European Commission, Directorate‑General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/digital-inclusion-web-accessibility-european-union.
Attention: Some rights for images are reserved and special permission must be requested prior their use.