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EU Policy

A new momentum for web accessibility is provided by the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) by the EU in December 2010, the adoption of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, the finalisation of the work on standardization mandate 376 to incorporate accessibility in public ICT procurements, and the European Commission's proposal of 3 December 2012 for a Directive on the accessibility of the public sector bodies' websites.

The European Commission will continue to monitor and support web accessibility implementation efforts and publish progress.

In November 2009 the Council authorised the conclusion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on behalf of the Union (UNCRPD). The UNCRPD has also been signed by all the Member States and it is binding upon the institution of the EU. The Convention identifies accessibility as one of its general principles and states that States Parties shall take appropriate measures to promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet.

In December 2008 the Commission adopted the Communication "Towards an Accessible Information Society" proceeded by a public consultation. This Communication reinforces the European Commission's commitment to web accessibility and calls upon all stakeholders to step up their efforts in this area.

In the 2006 Riga Ministerial Declaration on "ICT for an inclusive society", European Ministerial representatives agreed that all public web sites should be accessible by 2010. Progress towards this target remains slow as demonstrated by recent monitoring on the status of web accessibility in Europe conducted for the European Commission.

In April 2003 in the Ministerial declaration on e-Inclusion, Ministers agreed on taking all necessary actions towards and open, inclusive knowledge-base society accessible to all citizens and that National and EU institutional level measures should be taken to ensure WAI guidelines adoption and implementation is increased, specially in public web sites.

 

Documents

  • On 3 December 2012 the European Commission adopted a Proposal for a directive on the accessibility of the public sector bodies' websites.
  • On November 2009 the Council adopted a decision concerning the Conclusion of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the Union.
  • On 31 March 2009 the European Council adopted conclusionspdf 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.
  • During 2008, the Commission raised awareness with a campaign named "e-Inclusion, be part of it!" This has culminated with a Ministerial Conference in the end of the year, to demonstrate real progress and strengthen commitments on all levels. Areas of e-Inclusion policy, as defined in 2010, are: ageing, eAccessibility, the broadband gap (digital divide), inclusive eGovernment, digital literacy and culture.
  • On 8 November 2007, the Commission adopted the Communication entitled " European i2010 initiative on e-Inclusion - to be part of the information societydoc". The Commission's i2010 initiative prioritised e-Inclusion.
  • In June 2006, 34 European countries committed to reducing the digital divide by 2010 in the Riga Ministerial Declarationpdf [173 KB].
  • On 13 September 2005 a new EC Communication on eAccessibilitypdf [193 KB] is adopted following a public consultation at the beginning of the same year. Following on from the Communication, a study spanning 2005 to 2006 identifies and evaluate measures that have a significantly positive impact on eAccessibility and support the Community eAccessibility strategy. The results of the study will be available in early 2007. An overall evaluation of all previous policy initiatives will follow in order to establish, if necessary, additional measures and legislation. It will also contribute to the upcoming “2008 European Initiative on e-Inclusion”.
    As part of the follow-up to the European Commission’s Communication on eAccessibility of 2005, the "Measuring progress of eAccessibility in Europe" (MeAC) study provides, two years later, the results of an extensive benchmarking exercise and analysis on the status and progress of eAccessibility in Europe.
  • In 2003, the European Commission and Disability Movement organises the European Year of People with Disabilities to improve the lives of those of us with disability and to highlight disability barriers and discrimination. The year was followed by the adoption of a European Disability Action plan with successive Communications in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Web accessibility was present in each stage of the plan.
  • On 13 June 2002, the European Parliament adopts the resolution EP (2002)0325 supporting the importance of Web accessibility in European institutions and Member States. In particular, the resolution states that Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (priority levels 1 and 2) and future versions, should be implemented on public web sites, and that EU institutions and Member States should also comply with the Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines by 2003.
  • In its "Council Resolution of 26 March 2002doc" [132 KB] (p. 9-11), the Council encourages efforts in this domain and requests a new status in 2004 after the European Year of the People with Disabilities.
  • On 25 September 2001, the Commission adopts the Communication "eEurope 2002: Accessibility of Public Web Sites and their Contentpdf" [102 KB] on improving the accessibility of public web sites and their content. The aim is to make web sites more accessible to people with disabilities and older people.
  • In December 1999, the "eEurope - an Information Society for All" initiative is launched by the European Commission to bring the benefits of the Information Society to all Europeans. In June 2000, the subsequent "eEurope 2002 Action Plan", adopted at the European Council of Feira, sets out a roadmap to achieve eEurope's targets. The point "e-Accessibility" includes the specific target of ensuring that people with disabilities benefit fully from new technologies and the Internet.