Web accessibility means that everyone including people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Internet, and they are offered the possibility to contribute to the society.
Web accessibility is both a question of technical standards and how you build your web site, but it also a question of political goals and securing equal rights for everyone.
Web accessibility is one of the crucial building stones in order to secure e-accessibility in general. Better web accessibility entails major social and economic gains for several groups of people and for public and commercial service providers. For example, people with disabilities and elderly, people living in remote areas and people who are disadvantaged for economic or educational reasons can be more active as workers or consumers. Public and commercial service providers can reach a larger customer base.
The rapidly increasing quantity of information and interactive services available on the Internet has made web accessibility critical, especially for citizens and consumers with disabilities. By a series of policy statements, Member States committed to improve the accessibility of public websites generally. In particular, the Riga ministerial declaration indicated that all public websites should be accessible by 2010. Recent monitoring of the status of web accessibility in Europe show however that progress towards this goal remain too slow (See the result of the "Measuring progress of eAccessibility in Europe" (MeAC) study).
On 31 March 2009 the European Council adopted conclusions supporting the Commission's communication "Towards an accessible information society" COM (2008) 804 and calls upon the Commission to issue a recommendation in order to avoid a fragmented European market.
The European Commission has for itself carried out in the Summer 2009 an evaluation of the accessibility of its websites. More about this evaluation exercise.
Last update: 04/06/2012