Transposition process of the Web Accessibility Directive is still going on
The majority of EU countries have already implemented European legislation on web accessibility, either by updating existing laws or by introducing new legislation to harmonise with the Web Accessibility Directive. But in some countries, the national legislation is still undergoing governmental treatment.
The Web Accessibility Directive entered into force in all EU Member States on September 23, 2018. Although not all countries have finalized their transposition period, that is, implemented national legislation, the timeline under which public sector bodies have to ensure conformance has started to tick. Formally it doesn’t matter, since the directive applies directly in these cases, but for the individual agency covered by the legislation, a delay in national legislation means shorter time to make things right. For example, the precise terminology of the accessibility statement or the exact regulations on required alternative formats can be decided by each member state. Also, any requirements that go beyond the minimum ones, when it comes to scope or success criteria, can also be a national matter.
The first deadline applicable is September 23, 2019, when websites, extranets and documents addressed to the public published after September 23, 2018 will meet the requirements of the Directive.
In addition, content for closed groups, such as extranets and intranets, published before September 23, 2019, must meet the requirements after having undergone extensive audits.
The Web Accessibility Directive explicitly means that websites, extranets, intranets, documents and apps must, as a minimum, meet the accessibility requirements of HEN 301 549 version 2.1.2. In addition, there is a requirement that the person responsible for a website and its interface must declare the accessibility status of the website in a detailed accessibility statement, and therefore must have knowledge of the level of accessibility of the object in question. In addition, the website owner must provide opportunities for feedback from users including information in alternative formats if needed, and also link to the complaint handling system proposed to be handled by an ombudsman or equivalent.
Sweden is proposing to go beyond the minimum
As an example, Sweden is one of the delayed countries, who hasn’t had web accessibility legislation before. The proposed legislation is currently under treatment by the parliament and it contains some interesting details, going beyond the minimum requirements of the Directive.
The scope is proposed to be broadened by including private actors who fullfill certain criteria and are active within
- School and education
- Healthcare or dental care
- Personal assistance
- Social services.
is entirely in accordance with the legislator's intention and really quite natural in a country such as Sweden where a lot of public services are conducted by private taxpayers. But it is nevertheless very encouraging to find this spelled out so clearly.
The draft legislation also proposes a new agency to handle the monitoring of web accessibility. The final vote on the draft legislation will take place in the Swedish Parliament on 14 November 2018.