People with disabilities constitute about 15% of the EU’s population. Most of them encounter barriers when using products and services on the web. Even if making the benefits of the web available to the widest possible number of people is a social, ethical and political imperative in the EU, there are still many inaccessible web sites. In this paper, we give a comprehensible explanation of EU policy in the matter of web accessibility.
Web accessibility is important because it plays an essential role in today’s digital society. The explosive growth of online services such as eBanking, eCommerce, eGovernment etc. means that the web is important in day-to-day life, as well as in dealing with public services. “Public” means “for the people”, e.g. all of them, including those with disabilities. Web can allow greater accessibility to public and other services. This means that accessible web sites allow persons with disabilities and elderly persons to take active part in information society. For these groups of persons, web accessibility is a key element for full participation in social and economic life. However, if web sites are not accessible, numerous groups of persons are at risk of being completely excluded from information society.
The primary aim of this paper is to explain the link between web accessibility and the European concept of human rights, as well as to give an overview of EU legislation concerning web accessibility. Next, by analysing principal barriers towards full implementation of European web accessibility policy, we will shed light on legal and social issues that European legislator and policy makers will have address in order to achieve acceptable levels of web accessibility in the future.