European legislation and mandates 

The European Legal framework

The United Nations Convention on the  Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is the first legally binding international human rights instrument to which both the European Union as a whole and EU Member States  are Parties.

The UNCRPD requests States Parties to promote universal design in the development of standards and to develop, promulgate and monitor implementation of minimum standards for accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public.

The European Commission is expected to publish a Proposal for a European Accessibility Act, which will complement the existing EU legal framework in this field and support the creation of a market for accessible goods and services for persons with disabilities and older people.

The European Commission issued in December 2012,  a Proposal for a Directive on ‘the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites’ COM (2012) 721 final, which is clearly mentioning the European standard including web accessibility in line with WCAG 2.0, under development within the Mandate M/376.

M/376  in support of European accessibility requirements for public procurement of products     and services in the ICT domain;
M/420 in support of European accessibility requirements for public procurement in the built environment;
M/473 to include ‘Design for All’ in relevant standardization initiatives
M/273 Standardisation in the field of information and communications technologies (ICT) for disabled and elderly people
M/283 Guidance document in the field of safety and usability of products by people with special needs (e.g. elderly and disabled)

In early June 2019, the European Accessibility Act (EAA) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. EU Member States shall now adopt and publish, by 28 June 2022, the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive. EAA aims to improve the functioning of the internal market for accessible products and services by removing barriers created by divergent legislation. EAA will cover the following products and services:

  • Computers and operating systems;
  • ATMs, ticketing and check-in machines;
  • Telephones and smartphones:
  • TV equipment related to digital television services;
  • Audiovisual media services, such as television broadcast and related consumer equipment;
  • Services related to air, bus, rail and waterborne passenger transport
  • Banking services;
  • E-books;
  • E-commerce.