With the exponential growth of online websites and digital content, now portals and mobile applications are available for any type of services ranging from online purchases to banking or food delivery. With this trajectory of growth of online media, now web accessibility to all also has become more important, which is also mandated by the law at many countries across the globe including the European Union.
Even if not mandated, implementing a few adjustments which can enhance accessibility will naturally benefit to the websites too by reaching to more people and getting more returns. Many studies have shown that ensuring accessibility will also benefit to SEO purposes too. In fact, the accessibility directives are not just focusing on individual disabilities, but also covering the environmental factors like lighting, connection speed, noise and audibility etc.
The accessibility directive
A directive is primarily a legislative act of EU, which puts forth a broader objective to be attained by the member states of the union. In 2016, the EU Directive 2016/2102 was passed, which aims at increasing the web access to all. To accomplish it, there are specific standards which the member nations should follow to ensure the accessibility of the web and mobile content of the public sector websites.
EU Directive 2016/2102 provides some standards to ensure that the websites and mobile applications are made more accessible. Even though the right means of achieving the optimum outcome of this is not formally explained, the objectives of meeting the accessibility standards are determined by the regulations.
Say, for example; the EU web accessibility directive is not saying that the alt text for the images and closed captions are mandates. This can be further explained that to make the content perceivable to the blink, one need image alternative text which can be interpreted by a screen reader. Similarly, to ensure that the content is accessible to a hearing-impaired person, the captions or transcripts should be made perfect.
What is not covered?
However, there are many limitations to technology when it comes to being fully compliant with the accessibility regulations, so there are many exceptions too in these directives. With this, the private sector websites are not mandated with the EU directives for accessibility. Even though this is not a comprehensive list of exception, here we will discuss the major ones.
- Archived content – the information which is no longer needed for active administration.
- User-generated or third-party content on websites – the content which is not developed or funded by any public sector boy. Various categories like emails, blogs, user comments, ads, and news aggregators come under this category of user-generated content.
- Office file formats: The office file formats like MS Office or Google Docs, which are published before September 2018 is excluded.
- Time-based media – The video files, audio, or graphics or live streaming media is excluded along with pre-recorded media published before September 2020.
- Online maps – online maps and other mapping services are excluded. However, there is a significant distinction between the maps used for navigation purposes which must be accessible.
- Public broadcasting sites – Government-funded television, radio, and other media services meant to fulfil public services.
It is said that The European Commission may adopt implementing this EU Directive by 2018 end to make sure that implementation of the necessary adjustments based on these directives is done.