Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies
There are approximately 135 million people in Europe, who live with some form of disability. This number is expected to increase as populations’ age.
In the modern world, many people rely on computers, smartphones, and other digital devices for information. Without defined standards for digital accessibility, many users encounter barriers that prevent them from performing everyday tasks.
The EU’s Web Accessibility Directive is part of an effort to establish digital accessibility standards for public organizations within the European Union.
What is the EU Web Accessibility Directive?
The Web Accessibility Directive (Directive (EU) 2016/2102) has been in force since 22 December 2016 and provides people with disabilities with better access to websites and mobile apps of public services.
The EU published the Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council (26 October 2016) on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies (known in short as the European Web Accessibility Directive) to standardize and harmonize the framework around the web and mobile accessibility of public sector organizations.
The Directive obliges websites and apps of public sector bodies to meet specific technical accessibility standards. There are a limited number of exceptions that include broadcasters and live streaming.
The Directive requires:
- An accessibility statement for each website and mobile app;
- A feedback mechanism so users can flag accessibility problems or request information published in a non-accessible content;
- Regular monitoring of public sector websites and apps by Member States, and reporting on the results.
Timeline for Implementation
- September 23, 2018 – Member States must transpose this Directive to national legislation
- September 23, 2019 – all new public sector websites must conform
- September 23, 2020 – all public sector websites must conform
- June 23, 2021 – all mobile apps must conform
- December 23, 2021 – member states’ websites will need to be monitored and publicly reported23 June 2022 – European Commission to carry out a review of the application of this directive (Article 13)
- 23 June 2022 – European Commission to carry out a review of the application of this directive (Article 13)
Who has to comply with the EU Web Accessibility Directive?
The EU Web Accessibility Directive applies to public sector bodies, including:
- State, regional or local authorities
- Bodies governed by public law
- Associations formed by one or more such authorities or one or more such bodies governed by public law
- The Directive also encourages member states to extend its application to public-private sector bodies, such as healthcare, childcare, social inclusion, transport, electricity, gas, etc.
Public service broadcasters or non-governmental organizations that do not provide services that are important to the public or specifically for people with disabilities are excluded from this Directive.
What web accessibility standards does the EU Web Accessibility Directive use?
The EU Web Accessibility Directive uses the European standard EN 301 549. EN 301 549. The EN 301 549 has adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 which covers the accessibility for web content, electronic documents, and non-web software, such as native mobile apps.
WCAG and the EU Web Accessibility Directive
EN 301 549 covers conformance to WCAG 2.1 level A and AA, but not level AAA to enable a more seamless harmonization with other procurement standards. Web authors and procurement accessibility specialists, however, are still encouraged to improve and extend the accessibility of websites and apps beyond the outlined standards where applicable and relevant.
The EN 301 549 follows WCAG 2.1’s four principles of accessibility: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
The information and user interface components of websites and mobile applications must be presented in a way that enables users to perceive them clearly.
The functionality and navigation of the web and mobile user interface components must be usable.
The information and operation of the web and mobile user interface must be easily understood by people of differing abilities.
The content of the website must have the ability to be interpreted reliable across a range of assistive technologies, and have the ability to adapt to new user agents.
EN 301 549 also specifies the functional accessibility requirements for ICT products and services, including web content, which could be used in public procurement or to support other policies and legislation.
What does the EU Web Accessibility Directive cover?
The content covered by the Directive for public sector websites and mobile applications, includes:
- Non-textual information
- Downloadable documents
- Two-way interaction such as the processing of digital forms and the completion of authentication, identification and payment processes
The Directive does not apply to the following content:
- Office file formats published before 23 September 2018
- Pre-recorded time-based media published before 23 September 2020
- Live time-based media
- Online maps and mapping services
- Third-party content that is not funded, developed or controlled by, the public sector body concerned
- Reproductions of items in heritage collections that cannot be made fully accessible because the preservation and authenticity of the item may be affected or there is no effective solution to convert it into an accessible format
- Content of extranets and intranets published before 23 September 2019, unless these websites undergo a significant update
- Content of websites and mobile applications qualifying as archives, meaning that they only contain content that is neither needed for active administrative processes nor updated or edited after 23 September 2019
How to comply with the EU Web Accessibility Directive?
To comply with the EU Web Accessibility Directive, member states must ensure that their public sector bodies are taking the necessary measures to make their websites and mobile applications accessible by following the WCAG principles of perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. Public sector bodies must also commit to the following:
1. Producing an Accessibility Statement
Public sector bodies within the EU member states must provide an accessibility statement clearly detailing their explanation for any inaccessible elements that may still be present on the website or application, as well as information on alternatives for access.
The statement must also include a feedback mechanism that website users can use to provide information on accessibility failures, request for more information, and submit complaints.
2. Monitoring Accessibility
Conformance to the standards in the Directive should be monitored using a methodology that includes:
- The periodicity of the monitoring and website sampling arrangements;
- The sampling of web pages, of the content on those pages and of the content of mobile apps;
- A description of the way to determine compliance;
- Where deficiencies are found, a mechanism to help public sector bodies correct them;
- Arrangements for automatic, manual and usability tests.
The member states will have to submit a report on their web accessibility progress to the EU Commission every three years starting from 23 December 2021.
The report should cover the information and results of the enforcement of the Directive. The content of all the reports will be made public in an accessible format.
Besides reporting on the progress from the monitoring activity, the report should also include:
- A description of the mechanisms set up by Member States for consulting with relevant stakeholders on the accessibility of websites and mobile applications;
- Procedures to make public any developments in accessibility policy relating to websites and mobile applications;
- Experiences and findings from the implementation of the rules on conformity with the accessibility requirements;
- Information on training and awareness-raising activities.
What happens if you fail to comply with the EU Web Accessibility Directive?
There are no set penalties for non-compliance. Each EU member state sets its own penalties for failing to conform to the directive and the local legislation related to it.
The 2020 Regulations require that public bodies prepare and regularly update a detailed, comprehensive and clear accessibility statement on the compliance of their websites and mobile applications with the Regulations.
The Accessibility statement must be available in an accessible format and be based on the model accessibility statement contained in Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2018/1523.
The Accessibility Statement must include:
- A Statement of Commitment of the public body to making its websites and mobile apps accessible.
- The Compliance Status of the public sector bodies’ website and mobile apps with the standards described above.
- A description of any content of the website or mobile application that is not accessible, the reasons for that inaccessibility and, where appropriate, any accessible alternatives provided.
- A mechanism to request information for inaccessible content.
- A feedback mechanism to notify of any failure of any websites or mobile applications to comply with the accessibility requirements.
- A link to the redress or complaint provisions.
How codemantra helps your website to comply with the EU Web Accessibility Directive?
codemantra’s AI-powered platform accessibilityInsight offers scalable scalable modules that test for robust accessibility compliance and validation across all document types as per WCAG 2.1 standards.
The platform helps to auto-remediate documents as per EN 301 549, WCAG 2.1 Level AA, and international accessibility standards to achieve compliance at scale. It also allows users to perform interactive remediation as needed.
Interested to know more?
Call us at 1 (800) 769-9715 or email us: email@example.com for more information on how public sector bodies can achieve compliance.
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