Web accessibility: It is time to make everyone benefit from the digital revolution

Brussels, 10th March 2016

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Trilogue Negotiations on EU Directive on Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies’ Websites

While EU Ministers in charge of Digital Affairs in all EU member states are negotiating the EU Directive on the Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies’ Website, AGE has joined forces with several EU NGOs, including EDF and ANEC, and is today publishing an open letter urging EU Ministers to uphold all provisions guaranteeing that the rights of all citizens are respected.

The EU Directive on the Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies’ Websites, released in December 2012, is a major piece of legislation for the millions of citizens who do not have a proper access to digital content. Members of the European Parliament made key proposals to improve the scope of the directive and make sure it will not be outdated before being adopted. Thus, AGE Platform Europe together with EDF and ANEC are concerned about the far-reaching exemptions proposed by the Council as these would prevent millions of citizens from accessing public digital content and services that every citizen takes for granted today.

‘It is not acceptable to adopt legislation that would potentially deny millions of citizens equal access the digital world we live in today. It is not acceptable to legalise digital barriers to employment. It is not acceptable to exclude millions from full participation in society’, highlights Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Platform Europe Secretary-General.

Governments should work to ensure that everyone can benefit from the digital revolution. Although many persons with disabilities and older people face barriers in the physical world, there is no reason to create new barriers in the digital world. Ministers in charge of Digital Affairs must seize this unique opportunity to make a difference to the lives of millions of citizens with disabilities and older people, people who should benefit from wider access to digital public services in order to enjoy their fundamental rights, as well as Internal Market rights of freedom of circulation and services provision.

As stated in the past, AGE reminds that it is essential to make sure that:

  • All public sector bodies’ websites and websites delivering public services should be accessible to all, including when these services are delivered by private entities.
  • Most digital content is now accessed on mobile devices and through mobile applications. Therefore the directive must also ensure accessibility of both mobile web and mobile applications.
  • As most online processes require interaction with downloadable documents, these should be accessible too.

Read the AGE-EDF-ANEC joint letter here.

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