Norway one step closer to the Web Accessibility Directive
After a long delay, the Web Accessibility Directive has now finally been introduced in the EFTA countries Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. In Norway, this means that the bill will be presented to the Norwegian Parliament, (Stortinget) in the spring of 2021.
The means, among other things, that the EFTA countries may set their own deadlines for when organisations must meet the requirements for accessibility. The new regulaton can not take effect until the national law is implemented, and so far there is no information about the deadlines for compliance.
As Norway has already had legislation in this area for a long time and everyone covered by the current law is required to comply with accessibility requirements as of 1 January 2021, it may seem strange to postpone the deadlines further. Especially considering that the regulations were planned to enter into force on 1 July 2020. But better late than never!
What the update means
The Web Accessibility Directive differs from the current Norwegian legislation in three different areas:
- Extended accessibility requirements
- Extended scope
- Mandatory accessibility statement and feedback from end users
Extended accessibility requirements
As Norway's current law still points to WCAG 2.0 AA, the transition to the EU Web Accessibility Directive means the introduction of the 12 “new” requirements of WCAG 2.1 AA (published in 2018).
In addition, there is an exception in Norwegian law for audio description of pre-recorded video, which is repealed with the introduction of EU regulations.
In the current Norwegian law, it is "the main digital solution" that must be compliant. The Web Accessibility Directive covers all websites, extranets and intranets, which means that significantly more interfaces will be covered. Documents are covered in both regulations.
Mandatory accessibility statement and feedback from end users
The Web Accessibility Directive requires all organisations covered by the law to publish an accessibility statement. To do this, the website owner must know the status in terms of accessibility, publish the status openly and keep that information up to date. The statement must also contain a feedback mechanism for end users who experience inaccessibility and may need content in an alternative format. The objective of the statement is to support both the monitoring agency and the end users.
The Norwegian Digitalisation Agency, who is also going to be the monitoring agency for the directive, is planning to develop a central solution for the accessibility statements, with an integrated feedback mechanism.
The idea of a central solution is found in many EU countries and can make it much easier for users to find it, a problem that has been reported from several users. The user also does not have to learn different ways of providing feedback, which is of course an advantage - provided that the central feedback mechanism is easy to use.
For website owners, a central solution can be perceived as both positive and negative, but the probability is high that it means money is saved at societal level.
At Funka, we welcome the fact that our Norwegian friends, colleagues, partners and customers are slowly approaching the EU. Common requirements and rules make the life easier for everyone.