The introduction of the Web Accessibility Directive is delayed within EFTA
Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland form the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). These four countries have agreements with the EU in very many areas and they follow EU legislation very closely. They will also implement the Web Accessibility Directive, but the process has been delayed.
The delay is because several EFTA countries want longer transitional periods to implement accessibility requirements. Norway, which had a similar law on web accessibility requirements long before the EU, had planned to introduce the new regulatory framework from 1 July 2020. But this will now be postponed.
The other EFTA countries currently have national recommendations on web accessibility, but no clear legal requirements in addition to general anti-discrimination rules.
Exactly when the Web Accessibility Directive will be introduced in the EFTA countries is presently not known. For all of us who work with digital communication across borders, the delay means that there are still different rules in different countries. One of the ideas behind the directive is to facilitate cross-border trade by harmonizing requirements. This makes it easier for both clients and suppliers.
A positive news is that the Norwegian Digitization Directorate will develop a central solution for both an accessibility statement and the feedback mechanism required in the directive. This way, Norway tries to stay prepared. At the time of writing this article, it is not clear whether the service will serve as a support or whether it will be mandatory to use it. Funka has developed a similar service for the Digitization Directorate, which focuses on accessibility in self-service machines, which are also covered by Norwegian law.
Of course, for end users, it is a great advantage if these types of features are the same everywhere, and it should also save taxpayers money when not every authority, municipality, school and medical center should develop their own templates.
We wish the EFTA countries - and perhaps especially Norway - success in the negotiations and hope that soon we will have common rules for web accessibility.