On June 7 the European Commission finally published the European Accessibility Act. It covers certain products and services in parts of the commercial sector, which means a kind of paradigm shift in Europe
The Accessibility Act is ambitious in that it places demands on digital accessibility throughout the value chain: Manufacturers, authorized representatives, importers and distributors of products and services are affected. The requirements also apply to public procurement of products and services covered by the law.
Now the EU is entering a period where the European Commission will work with experts and the Member States to draft implementation acts and details in the legislation. In addition, a new mandate will be given to the European standardization bodies to ensure that there is a harmonized EN standard that can serve as minimum requirement. It is considered likely that the regulations will build on EN301549.
Some examples of products and services covered by the law:
- Computers (hardware and software)
- Self-service terminals (ATM, ticket machine, check-in machine)
- Banking services
- Digital interfaces in the transport sector (flights, buses, trains, boats)
Anyone who knows the Web Accessibility Directive can see both similarities and differences, for example:
- The law’s compliance will be monitored by market surveillance authorities
- There are opportunities for the consumer to appeal against lack of accessibility
- Member States may demand fines for those who do not comply with the law
- The CE marking will be used as a way to declare accessibility
- Member States should report the status to the Commission
Each country has plenty of time to introduce the law at national level. On June 28, 2025, most of the products and services covered by the law must meet the requirements, but there are a large number of exceptions, including for contracts concluded before that date and for products that have a long economic life; self-service terminals, for example, need not be phased out until after 20 years.
This will also affect Norway, however in general the EU are going in the same direction as Norway, as part of the Norwegian rules are being tightened.
It will be interesting to see how businesses react to stricter requirements for accessibility. We hope that this law will receive attention early on so that organisations that are covered will have good opportunities to prepare for the transition to increased inclusion.