Since 2016, the Web Accessibility Directive (EU Directive 2016/2102) regulates Web accessibility for European Union member countries.
According to this Directive, websites and mobile applications of public bodies are required to comply with the technical accessibility standards established by the more comprehensive European Accessibility Act.
The aim is to reduce the “digital architectural barriers” arising from the design of inaccessible platforms, thus allowing all people residing in the European Union easy and intuitive access to public services.
WAD: Website Policy
The legislation stipulates that public sector websites must be “perceptible, operable, understandable and robust” – entirely usable by everyone, including those with disabilities.
The minimum technical requirements, dictated in document EN 301 549 V3.2.1 (2021-03), correspond to the WCAG 2.1 level AA standard established by the World Wide Web Congress.
Learn more about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
In addition to complying with WCAG 2.1 guidelines, websites affected by this Directive will also be required to publish an Accessibility Statement containing:
- an explanation of any elements and information on available alternatives;
- a description of how a user can report non-compliance with this Directive or request information outside the scope of this Directive;
- a link to a complaint mechanism open to the public.
Which websites must comply with the Web Accessibility Directive?
All websites of public bodies in the Member States of the European Union are required to comply with the guidelines of the Web Accessibility Directive, except for public service broadcasters or non-governmental organizations that do not provide essential services to the public or specifically to people with disabilities.
State Web accessibility laws may also choose to exclude websites and mobile applications from schools, daycare centers, and preschools, except for content related to essential online administrative functions.
Member States shall verify the websites’ compliance with the wad by identifying any shortcomings using automatic, manual, and usability checks. Every three years, they will also have to report the monitoring results to the Commission.
Sources and legislation
- Accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites and mobile applications (Overview)
- Directive (EU) 2016/2102 on the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites and mobile applications
- Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2018/1523 of 11 October 2018 (Establishment of the model accessibility statement)
- Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on accessibility requirements for products and services
- Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2016 on the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites and mobile applications