Web accessibility to become mandatory in Europe

A long-running discussion related to web accessibility is whether it should be required by law or not. Some believe it is the only way of making organisations ensure that their websites can be used by everybody, while others argue that it should be up to each organisation to decide.

My opinion is that for the private sector the "let everybody decide for themselves" argument may have some validity, but only some. Public sector websites, however, must be accessible to all, regardless of which browsing device they use or if they have a disability.

That's why I find it very interesting that on 12 June 2006, ministers of 34 European countries endorsed A pan-European drive to use information and communication technologies to help people to overcome economic, social, educational, territorial or disability-related disadvantages.

Two of the targets of this Riga Ministerial Declaration are to ensure that all public websites are accessible by 2010 and by 2007, make recommendations on accessibility standards and common approaches, which could become mandatory in public procurement by 2010.

Very interesting, and about time. There is a related memo (Information and communication technology for an inclusive society -- Frequently asked questions) that mentions WAI, so WCAG will probably be used or referenced in some way.

The full press release is available online: Internet for all: EU ministers commit to an inclusive and barrier-free information society.

Posted on June 21, 2006 in Quicklinks, Accessibility