An excellent overview of the European Accessibility Act, how it overlaps with existing regulations, and the impact it might have. Doesn't get too technical, but does do a good job of explaining the high-level concepts and addressing a few tangential questions, like the result of Brexit on the UK's position.
(Can you tell I'm currently researching the EAA for work?)
On the WAD and where it applies:
It only applies to you if you're a public sector body in Europe, including the UK, as it was implemented in 2016 before Brexit.
On the UK equivalent of the WAD:
The Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations 2018 are, as the name suggests, aimed at public sector bodies also. But, the important difference here is that this is UK specific law.
Because they are harmonised, if you meet the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations, you will also meet the EU Accessibility Directive. Cool huh?
On the standard behind these laws, EN 301 549:
However, in short, EN 301 549 is a technical standard that lays down the accessibility requirements for ICT (information and communications technology) products and services.
It is essentially just a set of guidelines which tells organisations how to make products accessible, rather than all the legalities which explains what happens to them if they do not!
On the EAA in general:
The European Accessibility Act, on the other hand, is focused on private sector organisations selling products or services to customers that live in EU member states.
And, it's the first time that, whether you provide public services to people in the EU, or you sell products or services to customers in the EU, you will all need to meet the same standard of accessibility.
It's a significant step towards making the digital world more inclusive for everyone and I couldn't be more excited for it to arrive!
Simply put, if you're in the private sector and you operate within the EU, you'll have to make sure your products and services meet the EAA's accessibility requirements. That means more than just making your website accessible.
On the "increased market reach"(I hate these kinds of business-focussed accessibility arguments, but the stat is a good one to have up your sleeve) :
With more than 80 million people in the EU living with disabilities, making your digital offerings accessible can significantly expand your customer base.
On how Craig feels the same way 😅:
Again, I realise I’m making this about money, but we are talking about the private sector here, and unfortunately in private sector, money makes the world go round!
On the impact of the EAA in a post-Brexit Britain:
As we just mentioned, the EAA affects organisations selling to customers in EU member states. So if thats your organisaion, then put simply, you need to comply!
In the UK, private sector companies are also still bound to the Equality Act 2010, which makes it illegal to discriminate against people with protected characteristics, of which one is disability. This means private sector organisations have been expected to make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities for over a decade anyway.
On the way UK companies could find themselves outcompeted by European, accessible ones:
Even if you only ever plan on selling to people in the UK, your product is going to appear far inferior to your EU competitors if you don’t adopt the same standards. Trust me, there is no competitive advantage in having an ableist product or service in 2023!
Accessibility is not just about ticking boxes; it's about inclusivity. Implementing these standards shows that your business values all customers, regardless of their physical abilities.