On 7th of March, EUD attended the open meeting on “Web Accessibility Initiative Communities of Practice” (WAI-Coop) which focuses on the feedback mechanism and complaints procedures – a set of procedures and tools enabling users to provide information on their experience – of the Web Accessibility Directive (WAD). issue that the feedback and enforcement mechanisms have not yet reached their full potential. The event was organized by the HYPERLINK “https://www.w3.org/WAI/about/projects/wai-coop/”Communities of Practices project in collaboration with the European Disability Forum (EDF) and it included two different panels. In the first panel, an overview of the WAD’s feedback mechanism was provided and the main weaknesses of the mechanism were discussed. (EDF) and it included two different panels. In the first panel, an overview of the WAD’s feedback mechanism was provided and the main weaknesses of the mechanism were discussed.
The main aspects that emerged from the discussion highlighted the necessity to improve the accessibility of the feedback mechanisms. During the discussion, it was stressed that this could be improved by providing direct access through links connecting to the feedback mechanisms. In addition to this, the discussion stressed the need to develop an internal expertise on accessibility within the established feedback mechanism – this would provide responsible feedback mechanisms bodies to concretely recognise and monitor any accessibility issues. Moreover, the discussion highlighted a lack of consistency in the content of accessibility statements across different websites in EU Member States.
In the second part, the discussion aimed to identify and assess the key issues concerning the enforcement of the Web Accessibility Directive. The participants listed several issues when enforcing the WAD at the national and local level. Within the main identified issues, speakers declared a lack of communication between national authorities and IT service providers. During the discussion, participants agreed on the importance of providing training for employees and on the need for a clear outline of what is expected by IT service providers. Moreover, the enforcement of the WAD was identified as intrinsically connected to the provision of public awareness raising. In the final part of the discussion, participants shared important recommendationsfor the enforcement and implementation of the WAD:
- Raise users’ awareness of their rights;
- Ensure users can flag issues and, if not addressed in a timely manner, the possibility of using sanctions;
- Ensure that the responsible body for its enforcement is provided with necessary financial, human, and knowledge resources to implement the Directive;
- Ensure the possibility to take legal action against the responsible body monitoring the implementation of the directive, if required.
EUD continues to follow developments and improvements on the feedback mechanism and complaints procedures of the Web Accessibility Directive, as it is an important tool to ensure the accessibility of digital information and communication for the deaf community.