When standardisation needs to move fast
Funka’s Susanna Laurin has been appointed as expert in the ETSI Specialist Task Force assigned to adapt the EN-standard to the requirements of the Web Accessibility Directive when it comes to mobile apps.
When the directive enters into force by September 23, 2018, there needs to be a harmonised and revised EN 301 549 (Version 2) with additional accessibility requirements for mobile applications available.
And the work has just started! To create a harmonised standard in ten months seems like mission impossible. But it is happening as we speak.
Under the Mandate 544, the European Commission has contracted the telecoms industry standardisation body ETSI to perform the revision of the EN-standard to cover the technical specifications on mobile applications needed in the Web Accessibility Directive. ETSI has put together a Specialist Task Force called STF 536/BS (TC HF) to perform the task. The European Standardisation Organisations CEN and CENELEC, who have copyright of the EN-standard, are of course also contributing to the technical content and approving its progress.
The risk of fragmentation
At the same time, the W3C is working on the next version of WCAG, called 2.1, where success criteria for the accessibility of mobile interfaces is one out of three focus areas.
I really hope we can make sure these processes feed into eachother in a clever way, even though the timing is difficult, says Susanna Laurin. It would be very unfortunate if we end up with two different standards just weeks or months apart.
To meet the requirements of the Web Accessibility Directive, the harmonised EN needs to be published by May 31st 2018, which is earlier than the WCAG 2.1 is planned to be ready. But one important idea behind the directive is to harmonise the inner market. So logically, all involved parties will strive for harmonisation, not fragmentation.
Further updates and development
Apart from ensuring that all accessibility requirements in the Directive are included, issues that have previously been identified and that are easy to fix will also be addressed during the work of the Specialist Task Force.
Other potential improvements to the EN 301 549 that require more work and are not essential to meet the requirements of the Web Accessibility Directive, will be dealt with in the next revision.
Requirements for ICT products and services that meet the needs for persons with cognitive and learning disabilities will be considered as the basis for new requirements in a future revision of EN 301 549. This was already suggested by the European Commission during the Mandate, 376. Alignment with the recently released update of Section 508 in the US is also on the agenda for later revisions.
These are exciting times, continues Susanna Laurin, it is good fun to be in the midst of all this action! Despite the challenges, I look forward to an interesting year ahead of us.