Accessibility is fundamentally a matter of non-discrimination. According to article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation is not allowed. (Emphasis added for the most relevant grounds in accesibility for the web).
Additionally, while a commercial entreprise can make a cost-benefit analysis on whom to exclude from their website, an EU agency can not. Government is for all citizens.
In 2007 the Commission launched an e-Inclusion initiative.
On 12 June 2006, ministers of 34 European countries endorsed a pan-European drive to use information and communication technologies to help people to overcome economic, social, educational, territorial or disability-related disadvantages.
Two of the targets of this Riga Ministerial Declaration are to ensure that all public websites are accessible by 2010 and by 2007, make recommendations on accessibility standards and common approaches, which could become mandatory in public procurement by 2010. Full press release of Riga Ministerial Declaration.
On 13 September 2005, a new
2008 European Initiative on eInclusion.
On 25 September 2001 the Commission adopted the Communication
The aim is to make Web sites more accessible to people with disabilities and older people. We're talking about people who; may not have or be able to use a keyboard or mouse; may have a text-only screen, a small screen (think mobile phone), or a slow Internet connection; may not speak or understand fluently the language in which the document is written etc.
The commission has aligned its effort with W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative. You can therefore just follow W3C specifications.
There are several reasons why Web accessibility is important:
(*)The disabilities that Web accessibility is concerned with encompass users who are: blind or visually impaired, e.g. various common types of poor eyesight, various types of colour blindness motor impaired, e.g. Parkinson’s Disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, stroke cognitively impaired, i.e. poor short-term memory (as commonly caused by senile dementia), dyslexia hearing impaired or deaf non-native speakers of the website's language(s) (including users of sign languages)
The estimates of the number of people in the European Union directly affected by some form of disability vary from 8 to 14 %.
Source: European Community Household Panel (ECHP) Survey
Designing websites with accessibility in mind can often enhance usability for all users; these users also include automated access to the site, such as search engines.
Accessibility standards do not only involve handicaps like visually impared people but also make the information available to a wider range of devices and applications.
For example, it is now possible to access the home page via any mobile device and be able to read the latest highlights, look up an environmental term for explanation. or send a question to us. Other benefits are the better use of the screen width. Nowadays people use very different kinds of screens. Use of flat screens is growing more and more and also use of high resolution. An accessible design will use screen estate efficiently.
Watch as a blind person demonstrates the screen reader JAWS and explains how he navigates the web jumping from heading to heading. Duration: 8 minutes 41 seconds.
Document last modified 2009/01/27. Content in this portal is modified daily by a community of providers.