Commission proposal to make government websites accessible for all
The Commission's proposal for a Directive on the accessibility of public sector bodies' websites would introduce mandatory EU standardised accessibility features, from the end of 2015, for 12 types of websites, including driving licences and car registrations. The proposed new rules would also clarify what web accessibility means (technical specs, methodology for assessment, reporting, bottom up testing), and governments would be encouraged to apply the rules across all services, not only the mandatory list.
Key beneficiaries of today's proposal would be Europe's 80 million citizens with disabilities and the 87 million Europeans aged over 65. For example, visually impaired people will hear descriptions of images when using a screen reader, the hearing-impaired will see written captions for audio files and all parts of a website could be explored via ckeyboards as well as a computer mouse.
A single set of accessibility rules would mean developers could offer their products and services across the whole EU without extra adaptation costs and complications.
The proposed Directive now goes to the EU's Council of Ministers and the European Parliament for adoption. If adopted, Member States would have to put national rules and regulations in place by 30 June 2014. 21 Member States already have national laws or measures on web accessibility but progress is slow.
With this proposal, the Commission has delivered on Action 64 of the Digital Agenda for Europe and on Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
Websites falling under the jurisdiction of the proposed EU Directive on accessibility of public sector bodies' websites are:
- Income taxes: declaration, notification of assessment
- Job search services by labour offices
- Social-security benefits: unemployment benefits, child allowances, medical costs (reimbursement or direct settlement), student grants.
- Personal documents: passports or driving license
- Car registration
- Application for building permission
- Declaration to police, e.g. in case of theft
- Public libraries, e.g. catalogues and search tools
- Request and delivery of birth or marriage certificates
- Enrolment in higher education or university
- Notification of change of residence
- Health-related services: interactive advice on the availability of services, online services for patients, appointments.