The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is a key piece of legislation for strengthening the rights of persons with disabilities for equal access to services and products in the EU. It sets EU-wide minimum accessibility requirements for certain services and products available in the EU internal market. While the EAA introduces significant accessibility requirements, a transposition period was set during which Member States had to implement this law at national level. The deadline for the transposition was 28 June 2022. Accordingly, as the deadline has already passed, all EU Member States should have taken measures to transpose the EAA into their national laws. However, disappointingly, this is not entirely the case. In fact, only 11 Member States have have taken some measures – Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Austria, Romania, and Finland. For full compliance with the UN CRPD, a more ambitious transposition of the EEA at national level is required for all Member States.
For those Member States that have missed the transposition deadline, namely – Bulgaria, Czechia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Cyprus, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Sweden – EUD is calling on the corresponding National Associations of the Deaf to take immediate action accordingly. For instance, by contacting your respective governments to inform them of the missed transposition deadline, and the need to implement measures to strengthen the EAA in the national context with priority. Measures could include advocating to expand the scope of products and services covered as well as building alliances to coordinate this work.
Of particular importance in the EAA, for the advocacy of National Associations of the Deaf, is found under Article 4 which requires the Member States to ensure that the answering of emergency communications to the single European emergency number ‘112’ by the most appropriate PSAP, shall comply with the specific accessibility requirements set out in Section V of Annex I in the manner best suited to the national organisation of emergency systems.1 The specific accessibility requirements in Section V of Annex 1 state that 112 calls shall be answered “using the same communication means as received, namely by using synchronised voice and text (including real time text), or, where video is provided, voice, text (including real time text) and video synchronised as total conversation.” In this way, the accessibility requirements of the vital 112 service are made inclusive of deaf persons under the EAA. However, it is important to highlight that, under Article 31 of the EAA, the transposition deadline for the requirements under Article 4 is 28th June 2027. Accordingly, Member States have a longer period by which to transpose this requirement at national level, than for the other requirements.