Posted by Paul Timmers, Director, Sustainable & Secure Society, DG CONNECT
At the e-inclusion conference in Gdansk in November last year, staff of the European Disability Forum very kindly showed Commissioner Kroes how a visually impaired user can get on line.
There I learned that, with the help of special software (such as a screen reader) or an assistive device (such as a braille display) a blind person can surf the web. But it also became clear to me how difficult it is to surf the web, because many pages are not marked up properly, or according to different methods and standards. How frustrating!
According to the latest report from MeAC (Monitoring eAccessibility in Europe) still less than 10% of all websites in the EU are fully accessible. Only one third of public sector government websites, who have to serve all citizens, regardless of their abilities, does comply fully.
Yes, most public bodies have adopted some kind of regulation for the accessibility of their websites, even based on the same guidelines (the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, or WCAG 2.0, learn more about it from its theme song). But they interpret the guidelines very differently across the EU and, sadly, too often implement them only partially.
That's why the Commission has now adopted a proposal for a Directive that would harmonise the measures according to which Member States make accessible the content of public sector websites.
Accessible websites do not look and feel any different from other websites. But they sure are better usable! Accessibility is good for all, for example in noisy environments, or glaring sunlight. Or if you're just getting older and your eyes start giving you trouble...
Accessible websites do not cost much more to develop or maintain either. And if we do it all according to the same requirements – according to this proposal – it will be cheaper than ever.
December 3 was the International day of people with disabilities. Let's do something that makes a difference. You are public procurers, managers of private websites, web developers ? Update your knowledge on the accessibility business case in our accessibility cost-benefit study . If you need further evidence, we developed a tool to calculate the cost of making your site accessible yourself. It is straightforward and simple. Just fill in the questionnaire and you know what it takes to help get every European Digital.