Following from the European Disability Forum’s campaign work on web accessibility for people with disabilities, the European Commission has released a legislative proposal on the accessibility of public websites.
Once adopted by the European Parliament and by the Council, this would enable Europeans with disabilities to have equal access to information on public websites and benefit from services provided online by 2015.
The right of people with disabilities to have access to all information and communications technologies, including internet, is clearly stated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), that the EU has ratified. Nevertheless, until now, only a limited percentage of public websites in the EU are fully accessible for people with disabilities, while almost all private websites remain inaccessible.
Web accessibility refers to designing a website in order to ensure that the largest possible number of people, including people with disabilities, are able to fully access and interact with the content of the website. For people with autism this can include features like easy-to-read versions of text, eliminating distracting features that flash or pop-up, and much more.
The European Commission’s legislative proposal addresses public sector bodies’ websites, such as those of municipality services, those for income tax declaration, job search services, education, health services, etc. It will contribute to ensuring participation of citizens with disabilities in critical areas of life.
The European Disability Forum (EDF) welcomes the legislative proposal as a first positive step towards the removal of all barriers to access internet products and services in the internal market.