What is the European Accessibility Act?

 

Definition” European Accessibility Act ” What is the European Accessibility Act?

In the European Accessibility Act, the European Union formulated binding guidelines on digital accessibility in 2019. This should enable people with disabilities to access IT, technology and telecommunications as well as software and cloud services.

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Digitalization offers great opportunities in terms of accessibility, and the European Accessibility Act also requires companies to implement it.Digitalization offers great opportunities in terms of accessibility, and the European Accessibility Act also requires companies to implement it.

Accessibility in general means that any person, regardless of age or any disability, can have access to services, goods or facilities. The European Accessibility Act defines for the EU to what extent the EU internal market can be geared towards greater accessibility and which regulatory and legislative changes the individual Member States have to initiate before implementation.

In addition to the Web Accessibility Directive of 2016, the EU added the European Accessibility Act 2019 to more specific guidelines for digital services ranging from smartphones to ATMs, television programmes to e-commerce websites. The basis for the considerations is the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Member States have until June 2022 to publish corresponding laws, and the European Accessibility Act must be fully implemented by 2025.

The European Accessibility Act replaces laws and directives of nation states

Accessibility requirements for products and services have not only been in place in the EU states since the European Accessibility Act (EAA), before that many providers were already obliged to increase accessibility due to national rules, with the EAA individual regulations are now standardised across the EU.

The European Accessibility Act (EU Directive 2019/882) is intended to enable companies to expand their internal market without subsequent adjustments to accessibility. For public providers, corresponding regulations have been in place for several years, and the EAA is now extending these to private providers throughout Europe. Only so-called micro-enterprises with less than ten employees and an annual turnover of less than 2 million euros are excluded.

Products and services covered by the European Accessibility Act include::

  • Computers and operating systems
  • ATMs, ticket machines and other ticket machines and check-in kiosks
  • Telephony services and connected peripherals
  • Television and digital TV services
  • Access to audiovisual media (such as television programmes)
  • Public transport systems and services (bus, rail, air and maritime transport))
  • E-commerce Services

Social justice and free purchasing power

For all these goods, services and facilities, the European Accessibility Act enables people regardless of age and disability to participate fairly and fairly in society. The principle of “design for all” is not only an act of equality for all people and makes digital technology accessible to people of advanced age and with disabilities.

According to the Federal Statistical Office (2017), 7.8 million people in Germany alone are classified as severely disabled. 97 Percent of this group have acquired their disability through age or illness over the course of their lives, and more than three-quarters are over 55 years old. The purchasing power of this group is estimated at around 720 billion euros per year.

The European Accessibility Act is thus also an economic driving force in equal parts, since it aims at increasing the market through greater accessibility at the same time. Accessibility is therefore not only essential for the private sector for humanistic reasons, standardisation creates a direct, economic incentive.

But uniform accessibility is not only a real relief for seniors and people with permanent disabilities. Even if users have only broken their arm, have to take care of their child or watch videos without sound, the guidelines of the European Accessibility Act create a better user experience.

Design for All-digital accessibility through the European Accessibility Act

The EAA has been developed by the EU Commission with experts from different, involved groups and is intended to guarantee that the European Union and its digital services, goods, means of transport and information channels become barrier-free.

The EU expects not only further equality between people with disabilities and older citizens, but also a strengthening of the internal market and the opportunity to create jobs with the necessary expertise in retrofitting and design and to keep prices consumer-friendly through EU-wide competition.

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