Navigating Accessibility: What the EU Accessibility Act means for websites

Brian Whelan20th February 2024 - Brian Whelan

Navigating Accessibility: What the EU Accessibility Act means for websites

From 28 June 2025, a new set of rules will apply in the European Union aiming to make things easier for everyone navigating online, especially for people with disabilities.

The European Accessibility Act of EAA focuses on improving the accessibility of products and services by standardising accessibility rules across member states.

The goal is to ensure that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can use and enjoy things like websites, apps, and other products without unnecessary barriers.

Accessibility is crucial for fostering inclusive online experiences.

It ensures that digital content and services can be seamlessly accessed and used by everyone, regardless of their abilities.

The average person without a disability often takes for granted the relative ease of using the internet or mobile apps, however, the narrative differs significantly for millions of individuals living with disabilities across the EU.

According to Eurostat estimates, in 2022 27% of the EU population had some form of disability. That’s 101 million people or 1 in four adults.

This data highlights the need for a more inclusive digital landscape that accommodates and caters to the diverse needs of a substantial portion of the European population.

Understanding the Act

The EAA aims to make sure that the things we use daily, like products and online content are user-friendly for everyone, no matter where they are in Europe or what abilities they have.

The key objectives and provisions of the EAA include:

  • Making things Accessible for everyone: The primary objective of the EAA is to ensure that rules about accessibility are the same across the EU. This means that everyone, especially those with disabilities can access and use things like computers, the internet, phones and services easily.
  • Ensuring Accessibility for Essential Everyday Items: The EAA focuses on everyday things we use a lot, such as computers, ATMs, e-books, and services from banks. The goal is to make sure these things are accessible to everyone, no matter what.
  • Designing for everyone: The EAA encourages the adoption of inclusive design principles. This entails designing products and services to be as usable as possible by individuals irrespective of their age, or ability
  • Digital Services for Everyone: It also looks at digital services, like websites, e-commerce platforms and apps. The rules make sure these digital services are easy to use for people with disabilities.
  • Clear rules for everyone: The EAA sets clear rules that countries and businesses must follow. These rules are there to make sure that everyone has a fair chance to use different products and services, and that accessibility is a top priority across the whole of the EU.

The EAA will apply to several products and services including:

  • Computers and Phones
  • ATMs and Banking Services
  • E-books and Online Reading
  • Electronic Communication
  • Ticketing Machines and Public Transportation Services
  • Websites and Apps from the Government
  • Healthcare Services Online
  • E-commerce and Online Shopping
  • Educational Platforms
  • Entertainment Platforms

The EAA brings important benefits for everyone.

For individuals with disabilities, the EAA ensures that everyday things are designed in a way that everyone can use allowing for equal opportunity and greater independence.

For businesses following the EAA means a wider customer base, and builds a positive reputation by being inclusive for all. The EAA ultimately fosters a more inclusive environment for everyone.

How does the EAA impact your website?

The EAA affects both government and private businesses. For public entities, including government agencies and municipalities, it means they have to ensure accessibility in their digital services, websites and buildings.

Private companies that offer products and services falling under the scope of the legislation, such as manufacturers, retailers, and service providers, also need to follow rules to ensure their digital content, devices, and services are accessible to everyone.

These rules include making websites and apps understandable and usable for everyone, and companies have to stick to these rules within a certain time. If they don’t, they might face penalties.

The EAA does not provide technical accessibility standards for businesses to comply with and it is up to individual member states to decide how to achieve these aims, it is assumed that most will adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 level AA.

WCAG 2.2

WCAG is a set of web accessibility guidelines published by the World Wide Web Consortium.

WCAG 2.2 consists of 26 guidelines organised under four principles, perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. The guidelines provide a framework for creating accessible websites and digital content. WCAG for example ensures that a website is keyboard accessible for users who cannot operate a mouse to interact with the site. It also ensures the site is readable by setting appropriate font sizes, and sufficient colour contrast.

In conclusion, the European Accessibility Act represents a significant leap towards a more inclusive and accessible digital future in the EU, promoting equal opportunities for all its citizens.

Businesses and entities operating in the region must take proactive measures to ensure compliance, fostering an environment where accessibility is not just a legal requirement but a shared commitment to inclusivity and diversity.

If you need help ensuring your website meets the EAA accessibility requirements, get in touch.

Brian Whelan
Brian Whelan

Brian is a UX Developer here at Friday. He is passionate about all things web development, in particular the latest in frontend coding, performance and accessibility standards.

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