European Accessibility Legislation and Regulations

In the European Union until recently there was a largely diverse status between the Member States with respect to accessibility legislation and regulation. The Web and Mobile Accessibility Directive, enacted in 2016, establishes the minimum requirements for accessibility of websites and mobile applications in the public sector of all Member States of the European Union. The Directive fully acknowledges the trend towards a digital society, which provides users with new ways of accessing information and services, underlining at the same time the fact that the measures adopted by several Member States although based on internationally used guidelines, often relate to different versions of compliance levels of those guidelines. The specific requirements for the accessibility of websites and mobile applications are set in Article 4 of the Directive: “Member States shall ensure that public sector bodies take the necessary measures to make their websites and mobile applications more accessible by making them perceivable, operable, understandable and robust”. Although this is a step forward towards enforcing accessibility in the European Union, the public sector bodies are requested to apply the measures to their websites starting from September 2019 and to the mobile applications from June 2021. Furthermore, there is no unified framework with respect to accessibility requirements in the private sector.

European countries that have already in force accessibility legislation and regulations include: