European Accessibility Act
In 2010, the European Commission committed in the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 to exploring “the merits of adopting regulatory measures to ensure accessibility of products and services”. This is why it published in December 2015 the draft directive for the European Accessibility Act, after doing an impact assessment, deciding on the type of legislative measure to be developed and consulting stakeholders through a public consultation.
The European Accessibility Act sets common functional accessibility requirements for certain key products and services. Those include, among others, computers, telephones, TVs, transport and banking services as well as online shopping. These accessibility requirements will improve the functioning of the internal market, as it will make it easier for companies to provide accessible products and services across borders, which will both benefit them and persons with disabilities who, due to increased competition, will be able to buy them at lower prices.
The draft directive is currently being discussed within the European Parliament and the Council.
EUD is actively advocating for the adoption of this directive. Due to its focus on ICT products and services, it is highly relevant for deaf and hard of hearing persons. While EUD thinks that this proposal is a very important step forward, we would, among other things, like to see more elements included into its scope. Furthermore, we believe that the use of a separate accessibility label would allow consumers to make an informed choice about what product they buy. We also believe that more details regarding enforcement and monitoring need to be provided, so that the directive will have a notable effect on the availability of such products and services for disabled consumers.
In order to make our views heard, we are participating regularly in meetings with important stakeholders, such as the EU institutions, but also other disability umbrella organisations in Brussels, especially the European Disability Forum.