Three questions to Alejandro Moledo

Three questions to Alejandro Moledo, Policy Coordinator of the European Disability Forum, (EDF)

What is your view of the enforcement mechanisms of the Web Accessibility Directive, (WAD), considering the user perspective?

To assess the level of awareness on key aspects of the legislation, we ran a survey which marked the first deadline of the WAD - by which all new public sector websites should be accessible.

Based on the insights gathered from mainly persons with disabilities and disability organisations, public bodies are not fully taking advantage of the provisions so users do not know or cannot exercise the rights in the directive. There is huge potential which we cannot see results from yet. Public administrations must understand the following:

  • The accessibility statement is for users, not experts nor the Commission
  • It should be easy to find and understand
  • It should make communication easier between users and website owners, thereby supporting remediation of accessibility problems

Could you tell us about another interesting report of yours, ”Plug and Pray”?

The most important takeaway of the Plug and Pray report is that cooperating across sectors (tech industry, academia, policy makers and organisations of persons with disabilities) is the only way emerging technologies can embrace human diversity. There is no such a thing as the ”average user”. 

Artificial Intelligence, reality technologies like Augmented or Virtual Reality, Internet of Things and smart environment have a lot of potential to support the independent living of persons with disabilities and their participation in our information societies but can also create barriers and reinforce the discrimination we face in our everyday life.

It is the responsibility of policy makers and the ICT industry to make use of these new solutions only when they live up to the standards of inclusion that we want in our societies. If an AI-based tool discriminates against persons with disabilities, it shall not be used – that simple.

What is most important for the upcoming EU disability strategy to contain?

We expect to have a disability strategy focused on the rights of persons with disabilities named ”European Disability Rights Agenda 2020-2030” for which we want an adequate allocation of resources and necessary political structures to implement it including

  • Responsible units in all the Commission general directorates
  • A better staffed and more influential Disability Unit within the Commission
  • A Commission, Parliament and Council interinstitutional mechanism to ensure coherence and adequate mainstreaming of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). We need the strategy to look at the Convention, article by article, and to implement the recommendations made by the CRPD committee in 2015.

Awareness study on WAD

The results were presented to the Commission and Member States, opens in new window