Breaking Barriers and Clarifying Confusion: The European Accessibility Act Explained

18 Aug 2023 | Accessibility | Public sector | Legislation

Victoria Nieuwenhuys
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In an era defined by technological progress, the European Union introduced a significant piece of legislation in 2019, known as the European Accessibility Act (EAA).

At its core lies the principle of equality for all. The EEA’s mission is to establish and enforce accessibility standards for a wide array of digital devices, applications and services going beyond previous regulations that primarily focused on the public sector. The Act aims to create a more inclusive user experience, addressing challenges such as visual, auditory and mobility impairments. While compliance with the regulations is mandatory, it should also be seen as an opportunity for companies to proactively prepare for the future and embrace change.

Although regulations like the EU Web Accessibility Directive, Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations and EN 301 549 already exist, the EAA stands out due to its applicability to both public and private sector entities, with a particular emphasis on private sector organisations providing products or services to EU consumers. This extends beyond websites and apps, encompassing a diverse range of goods and services, from computers and smartphones to banking services and e-books. The EAA sets forth specific accessibility requirements that must be met to ensure these products and services are usable for individuals with disabilities.

Getting ready to follow EAA rules isn’t complicated, yet it’s crucial. It involves understanding the regulations, evaluating your company’s offerings and implementing the necessary changes. Remember, the deadline for EEA compliance is set for 28 June 2025, so don’t delay.

“This doesn’t affect me - I’m British!”

While the UK is no longer part of the EU and isn’t required to follow European laws, the impact of this Act extends to companies selling to European customers, regardless of their location. If your operations are within the EU, compliance is a must.

In summary, the stakes are high when it comes to the European Accessibility Act. Neglecting its requirements could expose your business to legal repercussions such as heavy fines, legal proceedings and a tarnished reputation. Yet, embracing accessibility isn’t just about fulfilling a legal obligation, it demonstrates your commitment to inclusivity, improves user experiences and ultimately leads to business growth.

Additional reading

European Accessibility Act: Q&A
European accessibility act: what you need to know/
Forbes: The European accessibility act: everything you need to know/
The European accessibility act: a slow start to a long journey