Disability Intergroup: advances for accessible Digital Single Market

22 November 2018

On November 22, MEPs Jana Zitnanská and Sehnalová hosted an open conference about the recent EU legislation that will make the European Digital Single Market more inclusive to persons with disabilities. The conference was well attended and counted with the participation of the different units from the European Commission responsible for the four Directive discussed.

Firstly, June Lowery-Kingston, Head of Unit G3 at DG CNECT, explained the recent developments on the transposition and implementation of the 2016 Web Accessibility Directive. Ms Lowery-Kingston explained the recently adopted Commission implementing decisions regarding the accessibility statement to be included in all public websites and mobile apps, as well as the monitoring and reporting obligations for Member States vis à vis the implementation of this Directive that Member States should have been transposed by last September.

Hannele Lahti, Policy Officer at Unit B1 of DG CNECT, presented the recently adopted European Electronic Communications Code, which strengthens the provisions for end users with disabilities to access telecommunications on equal basis with other users by accessible means, such as relay services or total communication services. Additionally, Carla Osman, Legal Officer at Unit I1 of DG CNECT also showed the new provisions of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which will ensure that TV broadcasters and video on-demand platforms will make their services continuously and progressively more accessible to persons with disabilities. This mean that more TV programs will include subtitles, audio description, spoken subtitles and sign language interpretation.

Soon before the event the EU co-legislators agreed on the European Accessibility Act, which will complement the above mentioned Directives. Inmaculada Placencia Porrero, Senior Expert on Disability at Unit C3 of DG EMPL explained that the Act will provide accessibility requirements for both the private and the public sector that will give certainty to industry and public administrations, and will cover aspects that the other Directives won’t cover, as the Accessibility Act has a strong ICT component.

Lastly, Julien Chasserieau, Policy Officer at Digital Europe, the representative organisation of ICT companies, and Thorkild Olesen, Board member of the European Disability Forum, both welcomed the progress made in this domain, but also pointed out the upcoming challenges in terms of making these laws a reality for 80 million Europeans with disabilities. After their interventions, EDF Director Catherine Naughton chaired a debate with the participants in which different questions were responded by the Commission officials.

The conference was followed by the award ceremony of the 2017-2018 EDF-Oracle eAccessibility scholarship

See some photos of the event

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