Web accessibility, Ramón Sanmartin Sola

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EU actions on Web-Accessibility,
Ramón Sanmartin Sola
Unit ´Digital Social Platforms”
DG Communication Networks, Content and Technology

Published in: Education, Design, Technology
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  • Web accessibility, Ramón Sanmartin Sola

    1. 1. EU actions on WebAccessibility ECC-Net- Web and Communication Workshop 21.11.2013 Ramón Sanmartin Sola Unit ´Digital Social Platforms” DG Communication Networks, Content and Technology
    2. 2. Types of actions 1. Policy initiatives 2. Standardisation activities 3. Projects 4. Studies
    3. 3. 1. Policy – Former Initiatives • Many initiatives at European level in Web-Accessibility since 2000 • “Soft law” = Encouragements and Commitment • Initiatives coming from the three main European institutions: the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council
    4. 4. 1. Policy – Former Initiatives European Commission o eEurope Action Plan (2000) and Communication on eEurope 2002: Accessibility of Public Web Sites and their Content (2001) oCommunications on eAccessibility (2005) oTowards and accessible information society (2008) European Parliament oResolution on the Commission Communication on eEurope 2002 Council oResolutions on eEurope Action Plan (2002) oRiga Ministerial Declaration (2006) oConclusions on the EC Communication on the accessible information society (2009)
    5. 5. 1. Policy – Former Initiatives • In addition to the European efforts, there have been parallel actions:  National measures: 24 Member States  International measures: United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) signed by all MS and ratified by 25 = ACTUAL COMMITMENT
    6. 6. 1. Policy – Present situation • Despite all these efforts, the situation of WebAccessibility in the EU today:  Low accessibility of public sector websites: less than 55% of websites accessible  Diverging and uncoordinated efforts: leading to varying national specifications
    7. 7. 1. Policy – Line to take • So what now? o “Soft EU law" + National initiatives => “Harder EU law" o Harder law: current & upcoming complementary legislative proposals 1. Proposal for new Public Procurement Directive 2. Proposal for a Directive on the accessibility of public sector bodies´ websites (Web-Accessibility Directive) 3. European Accessibility Act
    8. 8. 1. Policy – Public Procurement Dir. • Currently under negotiation • Establishes obligation to take into account accessibility criteria in technical specifications of public contracts "For all procurement the subject of which is intended for use by persons [...] those technical specifications shall, except in duly justified cases, be drawn up so as to take into account accessibility criteria for people with disabilities or design for all users." • In opposition to encouragement of the existing version (2004) "Whenever possible, technical specifications should be defined as to take into account accessibility criteria for people with disabilities or design for all users“
    9. 9. 1. Policy – Public Procurement Dir. • What does this actually mean? What are the practical effects?  Upcoming EU standard on eAccessibility (EN 301549), including requirements on web-content (WCAG 2.0 Level AA) +  Procurers tend to use available relevant standards =  Obligation to include WCAG 2.0 Level AA in technical specifications for public contracts for websites => PUBLIC SECTOR WEBSITES PROCURED TO BE ACCESSIBLE
    10. 10. 1. Policy – Web-Accessibility Directive • Identification of the problem: o Non-functioning of the internal market for provision of webaccessibility; • Drivers to the problem: o Fragmentation due to different national web accessibility (WA) specifications o Uncertainty for the procurers / owners
    11. 11. 1. Policy – Web-Accessibility Directive • Consequences Problems for public administrations: o Cost for alternative service provision and higher tender prices o Criticism on social and public responsibility Problems for citizens: o Low accessibility of public sector websites o Digital Social exclusion Problems for web-developers: o Difficulties for SMEs to operate cross-borders o Limited interoperability of assistive technologies
    12. 12. 1. Policy – Web-Accessibility Directive • The proposal establishes harmonised accessibility requirements for a set of public sector bodies´ websites Requirements • In line with Principles of WCAG 2.0: Websites to be accessible in “an adequate way for user´s perception, operation and understanding” and “in a way which facilitates interoperability with a variety of user agents and assistive technologies at Union and international level” Scope • Websites owned by public sector bodies • offering 12 types of essential services for citizens
    13. 13. 1. Policy – Web-Accessibility Directive (1) Income taxes: declaration, notification of assessment (2) Job search services by labour offices (3) Social-security benefits: unemployment benefits, child allowances, medical costs (reimbursement or direct settlement), student grants. (4) Personal documents: passports or driving license (5) Car registration (6) Application for building permission (7) Declaration to police, e.g. in case of theft (8) Public libraries, e.g. catalogues and search tools (9) Request and delivery of birth or marriage certificates (10) Enrolment in higher education or university (11) Notification of change of residence (12) Health-related services: interactive advice on the availability of services, online services for patients, appointments.
    14. 14. 1. Policy – Web-Accessibility Directive Use of standards •Presumption of conformity with requirements for websites which meet future European harmonised standard •Harmonised standard to point to WCAG 2.0 AA •Possible to update the content of the standard (i. e. WCAG 3.0) without changing the legislation Monitoring and reporting •Compulsory monitoring and reporting to the Commission •Harmonized monitoring methodology to be decided by MS and the EC
    15. 15. 1. Policy – Web-Accessibility Directive Additional measures oEncouragement to extend the scope of the implementation to public sector websites => To foster spill-over effect oProvide statement on the accessibility oEncouragement to develop mechanisms for consultations, cooperation and exchange of best-practices with industry and civil society Timeline oFixed deadlines for transposition (mid2014) and implementation (2015)
    16. 16. 1. Policy – Web-Accessibility Directive • Opportunities to be created For citizens: o Improved access to essential 'basic public services‘ For industry: o Easier and cheaper to operate EU-wide o Better growth conditions for SME´s (clear and consistent use of technical criteria) For public administrations o Efficiency/effectiveness, reduced need for helpdesk support o Fulfil social responsibility and commitments
    17. 17. 1. Policy – Web-Accessibility Directive • Summary & explanations What´s the objective? o Tackle the problem of the internal market on web-accessibility o by establishing harmonised requirements for a specific set of websites and, at the same time, o help MS to fulfil their commitments and ensure webaccessibility in EU Why set of websites? o It´s a “Silver bullet” – Obligation on a set of websites that will generate a “spill-over” effect to national legislations • Proposal is now under discussion at Parliament and Council
    18. 18. 1. Policy – Web-Accessibility Directive • Main amendments tabled at the EP Scope o Extension to cover "all public sector websites" and "websites providing services of general interest" o Extension to cover mobile applications Timeline for implementation o Two different deadlines: 1) Closer deadline (2015) for new content 2) Later deadline (2017) for existing content • Internal Market and Consumer Affairs (IMCO) Committee to vote on 28th November > Vote in EP's plenary
    19. 19. 1. Policy – European Accessibility Act o Expected to cover web-accessibility, in particular private sector o Complementary to and not in conflict with the WebAccessibility Directive o Currently under preparation by DG JUST
    20. 20. 2. Standardisation activities • Mandate 376 o Mandate 376 to the European Standardisation Bodies to deliver a European standard on accessibility requirements of public procurement of ICT products and services, but can be used for other cases o Final draft of EN 301549 is to be voted by National Standardisation Organisations o Estimated publication date is February 2014 o Web-content requirements: WCAG 2.0 AA
    21. 21. 3. Projects • Funding to different Research and Development projects: o eAccess+: Establishing a cooperative platform for supporting and improving the implementation of eAccessibility throughout Europe o WAI-ACT: Collaborative environment to result in o Expanded European and international cooperation on the development of accessibility solutions for people with disabilities; o Internationally harmonised evaluation methodologies; o A coordinated research agenda on eAccessibility o European Internet Inclusion Initiative (EIII): building a new combination of existing tools to support crowd source enabled user testing, automated evaluation and surveillance of the web and audio-visual media.
    22. 22. 4. Studies • Funding for many studies, consultations and surveys on WebAccessibility in Europe: o Measuring Progress of eAccessibility in Europe (MeaC I) o Economic Assessment for Improving e-Accessibility Services and Products o Monitoring eAccessibility (MeaC II) o Web-accessibility in European countries: level of compliance with latest international accessibility specifications, notably WCAG 2.0, and approaches or plans to implement those specifications o Study on assessing and promoting e-Accessibility
    23. 23. 4. Studies • Some results from the 'Study on assessing and promoting eAccessibility' o Progress on policy side, with almost all MS with some type of obligation or policy, and some having strengthened or developed existing approaches o Much room of improvement for levels of WA being achieved across EU and lower level of WA than in comparison countries (AU, NO, CA and US) o Considerable variation across MS in the levels of WA o Tendency to work towards WCAG 2.0 guidelines, but variations on the aspects of WA that seem to be given emphasis o Tendency for accessibility requirements of blind end-users; with poorer performance in meeting requirements of users with hearing impairments
    24. 24. Thank you!

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