Funka in Web Accessibility Directive Expert Group
Exactly how the monitoring of the new legal requirements for web accessibility is to be made in Europe is currently being discussed in a political working group within the European Union. To provide both the Commission and this group advice and recommendations, seven external experts have been appointed. One of the experts is Funka’s Susanna Laurin.
Since the European Union adopted the web directive requiring accessibility of public sector websites and apps, the member countries have 21 months to implement the regulatory framework in national legislation. This is called the transition period and, measured with bureaucratic standards, the period is very short.
The countries that have not previously had legislation in web accessibility will have to enforce a new law, whereas countries with existing regulations will have to harmonize with the new EU directive. September 23, 2018, everything should be in place.
Different countries handle the transition differently. It is interesting and instructive for us who have similar high level assignments to many European governments in parallel, says Susanna Laurin, CEO of Funka.
In Sweden, an investigation including impact assessment is being made on behalf of the government. At Funka Accessibility Days in April, the person responsible for this work, Henrik Ardhede, will present the progress. Finland uses a much more open approach, where experts are invited to regular dialogue meetings.
Monitoring is the key
How the new regulations are going to be monitored is one of the big questions still left to solve. In the web directive, it is clear that each member state must measure how the public sector meets the accessibility requirements and report to the Commission. This will be done with a methodology decided by the European Commission.
On behalf of the European Commission, Funka together with W3C, Empirica, EDF and COWI carried out a comprehensive study of existing methods which resulted in a number of recommendations on how the monitoring should be done. Susanna Laurin presented the final report at the first meeting of the Web Directive political expertgroup in Luxembourg.
The new assignment for the European Commission, means providing support with expert knowledge to ensure that the negotiating process is based on realistic assumptions of what can actually be measured, how to make it most resource efficient and of course with the quality of the users' perspective in focus.
There is a secretariat to assist the expert group, and we will obviously have close contact with both the Commission and the political working group.
I look forward to this work, says Susanna Laurin. It is a challenge to get so many countries with different conditions to understand this very complex matter. The Web Directive has the potential to offer great benefits for end users, but it is important that we manage to obtain a monitoring method that drives development towards greater inclusion.
At national level, investigations cover among other things which local authority is going to supervise the law, where the boundaries should be drawn when it comes to privately owned organisations financed with tax money who deliver public facing services, potential add ons to the minimum requirements of the Directive, and so on.