On 8th of November, EUD took part in a conference about the „European Accessibility Act“, which is currently under negotiations in the European Parliament and the Council. The event was organised by the European Disability Forum (EDF) and the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament.
EUD executive director Mark Wheatley was a speaker on a panel on accessibility of ICT products and services presenting the user perspective on this issue from a deaf perspective. He presented the various barriers that deaf persons still face with regards to ICT accessibility, for example with regards to telephony and emergency services, audio-visual media services and transport. He also highlighted that accessibility of products and services does not only benefit persons with disabilities, but really benefits all members of society, who in different situations can also be unable to use an inaccessible product or service.
Other speakers of this panel showcased technological advances in the area of audio-visual media services, which allow to produce access services in a less costly manner and even customise technological aspects of the service to fit one’s own wishes. Additionally, they pointed out that requirements of the act need to be functional in order to make it future-proof and allow manufacturers and service providers to be innovative. It was also highlighted that such new accessible technology must also function together with assistive devices.
Furthermore, more technical aspects of the act were discussed. For instance, participants exchanged ideas on how it can be ensured that consumers are informed about the accessibility features of the product or service they wish to purchase. They also pointed out that it needs to be made sure that the product contains accessible information about its functioning and that there is accessible information about the availability and the nature of an accessible service, so that the consumer knows where such a service can be purchased.
Finally, MEP Helga Stevens pointed out that is is crucial for all stakeholders on a European and at national levels to work towards a swift adoption of the act in the European Parliament and the Council.
It was a very useful exchange of views, as it allowed to bring experts in different fields together to discuss perspectives on how to make sure that the act becomes a strong piece of legislation that will hopefully, once adopted, improve the accessibility of products and services in the EU.