Update: the European Accessibility Act has been approved

Estimated reading time: < 1

Update 14 March 2019

Yesterday, after four years of negotiations, the European Parliament approved the European Accessibility Act in an overwhelming vote of 613 votes yes, 23 votes no.

In case you’re wondering who on earth would vote against improved accessibility rights for their nation’s own disabled and elderly:

The European Accessibility Act will harmonise technical standards and accessibility requirements for hardware and physical systems across Europe, including

  • computers and operating systems
  • ATMs, ticketing and check-in machines
  • smartphones
  • TV equipment related to digital television services
  • telephony services and related equipment
  • audiovisual media services such as television broadcast and related consumer equipment
  • services related to air, bus, rail and waterborne passenger transport
  • banking services

The Act will impact areas directly relevant to web designers and developers, including e-books and e-commerce.

Member states will have three years to introduce the Act’s provisions into their national legislation, and a further six years to apply them.

For UK developers, there is a Brexit issue here, the outcome of which remains uncertain; I have written on this separately. You should also follow my Brexit and accessibility page for further developments.

The European Accessibility Act should not be confused with last year’s European directive on the accessibility of public sector web sites and apps, which is a completely separate law and issue.

The Author

Iā€™m a UK tech policy wonk based in Glasgow. I work for an open web built around international standards of human rights, privacy, accessibility, and freedom of expression. The content and opinions on this site are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of any current or previous team.