National implementation of the Web Accessibility Directive is moving closer
Some European member states have recently published their proposals for the national implementation of the Web Accessibility Directive, but the majority is still pending. It is very interesting to learn how different member states act to maintain or expand their existing requirements to harmonize with the EU directive.
Most of the topics are already regulated in the directive, but there are areas where member states have some room for maneuver. Among other things, this has to do with national implementation of
- Who will be covered by the directive (beyond public sector),
- What requirements should apply in addition to the minimum requirements (if any),
- The authority or authorities that will monitor compliance with the law, handle complaints, train public sector bodies etc.
The diversity we see in the national proposals mirror the legal structure, the existing legislation and policy work on accessibility and the general level of digitalization.
In countries where new legislation is developed, public consultations are planned or in process. In member states where existing laws can be harmonized to adopt the directive, the process is sometimes less public.
At the European level, the meetings of the Web Accessibility Expert group is soon to result in the comitology process, where detailed discussions are held with each member state. In June 2018, the new harmonized European standard including requirements for mobile applications is going to be published, hopefully completely aligned with WCAG 2.1. On the 23 of September 2018, the directive enters into force in all member states and in December, the implementation acts are being published.
The situation of web accessibility in Europe will change drastically, hopefully to the better. The three level enforcement procedures covers monitoring from “above”, a complaints mechanism for end users from “below” and in the “middle”, the requirement for accessibility statements makes sure the public sector bodies covered by the directive know their level of accessibility and show it to the world. The more we work with the directive and its implementation, the more we believe it can be successful.
Let’s hope for relaxing holidays and increased accessibility in 2018!