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Web accessibility for people with disabilities in public sector could become reality


26 Feb 2014


Health & Consumers
Social Europe & Jobs
The new legislation on web accessibility adopted today is a significant step in the fight towards creating equal opportunities for disabled people. The new rules guarantee accessibility for disabled people on the basic web services provided by governments and the public sector. “With this Regulation in effect, web accessibility in the public sector could become reality before 2018”, said Ádám Kósa MEP, President of the Disability Intergroup and Roberta Angelilli MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament and Chair of the high-level group on gender equality and diversity.
The Report ‘Accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites’ adopted today sets out that public websites providing basic services (such as certain news portals, basic online banking and insurance portals), basic network services (gas, heating, electricity and water services) or postal and transport related-services shall be accessible to all disabled people. All information relating to health and social services as well as websites containing cultural or touristic activities must also be accessible. Member States are obliged to implement the rules.
“All citizens will benefit from wider access to online public services, will be able to access news, cultural and entertainment content in order to play a full part in social and working life, and at the same time they should receive services and information which will facilitate their daily lives”, said Angelilli.
Commenting on the outcome of the vote, Ádám Kósa pointed out that the close cooperation of MEPs in disability affairs at EU level shows that disabled people have a strong voice in the European Parliament. The first ever deaf Member of the European Parliament also referred to the close consistency between this Report and the cohesion regulations empowering a barrier-free environment and services. “Full web accessibility is a crucial point in terms of independent life and social inclusion. With the adoption of this Report, all governments, public sector agents as well as websites operated by entities performing public tasks have to fulfil the requirements of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ratified by the European Union in 2010 and signed by the Member States. Some EU countries, like Hungary, are already acting in this spirit. Others shall follow suit."
The legislation has to be approved by the Council. The Regulation will be binding on new websites from 2015, while current websites will be required to implement the Regulation until 2018 at the earliest.
The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 274 Members from 27 Member States.
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