EU Directive on the Accessibility of Public Sector Websites and Mobile Applications
The European Union (EU) Directive on the Accessibility of Websites and Mobile Applications requires EU member states to make sure their websites and mobile apps meet common accessibility standards. The Directive will be transposed into the laws of each EU member state by September 23 2018.
The Directive uses the four principles of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, requiring that public sector organisations across the EU take steps to make sure their websites are “Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust”.
The Directive references EN 301 549 as the standard which will enable websites and apps to comply with the law. EN 301 549 is a set of Functional Accessibility requirements broken down into chapters, and chapter 9 on Web Content cites WCAG 2.0 Level AA as the expected standard.
The W3C is close to publishing WCAG 2.1, an update to WCAG 2.0 that introduces many Success Criteria (SC) focused on mobile apps, as well as SC relating to low vision and cognitive disability. The W3C anticipates that WCAG 2.1 will be released in June 2018, and EN 301 549 could be updated to include the new SC introduced in WCAG 2.1.
Once adopted into the laws of each EU member state, the Directive sets a timetable for compliance with the new regulations:
- New public sector websites must conform by September 23 2019
- All public sector websites by September 23 2020
- All public sector mobile apps by June 23 2021
In order to comply with the Directive, public sector organisations will need to monitor the accessibility of their websites and mobile apps, make information from the monitoring available in an accessibility statement, and provide reports to a central authority. These requirements mean that many EU public sector organisations will need to rethink their accessibility strategy in the coming months if they are to be ready when the Directive comes into effect on September 23 2018.