What is e-accessibility?
It is recommended that such new headers are structured in a standard way, containing the following 4 levels, separated by "/":
- Level 1 (Domain), choosing any of these 3 alternatives
- "Policy" (i.e. initiatives from public authorities, such as legislation, standards or subsidy schemes)
- OR "Monitoring and impact" (i.e. indicators, surveys, analysis of impact, business models, etc)
- OR "Practice" (i.e. relevant experiences not falling under any of the two previous categories, projects, technological solutions, trends, etc)
- Level 2 (Technology and/ or Service), indicating the technology or service mainly addressed, e.g.
- "web", "TV", "public terminals", "assistive technologies", "several technologies", "procurement", "learning", "copyright",etc (this is not an exhaustive list, other options can be used)
- OR a combination of several options, e.g. "web+TV+phones", "learning+copyright","web+procurement"
- Level 3 (Country), indicating the country or international organisation mainly addressed, e.g.
- (country name), (international organisation name), "several countries", "international", etc (this is not an exhaustive list, other options can be used)
- Level 4 (Contribution descriptor), which is a free text field, to write between inverted commas
Example of header of new blog posts or new shared resource: monitoring and impact/ several technologies/ European/ New study on e-accessibility costs and benefits
Tags of the new blog posts and new "shared resources"
It is recommended that the tags given to new contributions include all of the following:
- The word "accessibility"
- The technology/ies and/or service(s) mainly addressed, as per the indications in the previous sub-section.
- Terms best describing the content of the contribution, which will often coincide with terms included in the header/ contribution descriptor referred to in the previous sub-section.
If you have questions, doubts, new ideas, etc. please do not hesitate to contact them.
Further Background on eAccessibility
Policy context and status of e-accessibility in Europe
The full participation of every citizen in the knowledge society depends on the implementation, both competitive and attentive of social cohesion, of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). That has been a key policy goal for the European Union for many years.
The Commission Communication mentioned above recalls that the Riga Declaration highlights the need to facilitate the accessibility and usability of ICT products and services for all, with a special focus on people with disabilities. Enhancing eAccessibility requires the use of all available instruments, from voluntary industry commitments to new legal provisions at EU and national level where appropriate. Mainstreaming e-inclusion in all policy areas, and mobilising key players (Member States, industry and users), is necessary to achieve the effective implementation of accessible ICTs in daily life.
A large number of European Commission's Communications, initiatives and working papers provide the policy context, and highlight the need for dedicated efforts at the European policy level if fundamental targets are to be achieved. In addition, European standardisation "Mandate 376" supports the public procurement of ICT with accessibility criteria as a lever for the deployment of eAccessibility. Furthermore, most European Member States have some form of eAccessibility policy in place.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006 marks the first time accessibility is mentioned in an international human rights instrument, and it is defined within the Convention in a highly comprehensive manner. The UN disability convention is also the first human rights convention which the European Community has signed on its own right and will conclude.
However, the findings of the Measuring Progress of eAccessibility in Europe study (MeAC) confirm the ‘patchwork’ situation both as regards the status of e-accessibility in almost all EU countries (e.g. accessibility of commercial web sites, provision of access services by commercial broadcasters, self-service terminals, etc) and on the policy side (differences in monitoring, administrative ruling, certification schemes, certification actions, court cases, and so on).
Impact of eAccessibility
The number of people with disabilities in Europe is estimated to be between 10% and 15% of the total population (between 50 and 75 million people in the EU27), which suggests the number of potential beneficiaries of accessible ICTs. The prevalence of both disabilities and other minor limiting conditions are strongly related to age. Thus, the already high level of demand for eAccessibility solutions will increase substantially with the ageing population.
Introducing accessibility criteria into the fast-paced technological innovation of ICTs not only facilitates the participation of people with disabilities and older people, but also leads to greater quality in products and services for everyone. Not only will ICTs be more usable in general, it will also facilitate their usage in a wide variety of situations (e.g. hands-free usage, in noisy or poorly-lit environments, and so on), with limited technical equipment (out-dated modems, poor internet connections) or with browsers on Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and mobile phones.
eAccessibility thus opens access to, and improves use of ICT products, ICT-enabled services (e-commerce, e-government, e-health, e-culture, Internet banking, etc.) and opportunities (e.g. online job applications, job-matching platforms, e-learning applications, etc).
Specifications and eAccessibility assessment; ICTs concerned
Designers, developers, consultancies, user organisations, private and public procurers need to refer to commonly accepted standards (e.g. the Web Accessibility Initiative guidelines from the World Wide Web Consortium-W3C), as well as to conformity assessment systems and schemes (e.g. the Unified Web Evaluation Methodology, UWEM) when designing, assessing or claiming conformity to a set of accessibility criteria.
ICTs are changing very fast bringing new opportunities and threats for the e-inclusion of people with disabilities and older people. Accessibility solutions concern virtually all ICTs, e.g.:
- Web accessibility
- Content Management Systems (CMS) and Authoring Tools
- Digital TV and interactive TV
- Total Conversation solutions
- Fixed and Mobile telephony
- Self-service terminals (including, ATMs, information kiosks, ticketing and vending machines)
- Digital information panels
- Desktop and portable computers
- Digital homes and telecare solutions
- Electronic books
- eLearning platforms
- Office technology HW&SW
- Assistive Technologies HW&SW