Actions to Take Now That the European Accessibility Act is Only Two Years Away

In a world that is increasingly embracing digital advancements, equal access to products and services is essential for everyone, including the 135 million individuals with disabilities residing in the European Union. Recognizing this need, the European Commission introduced the European Accessibility Act (EAA), a groundbreaking legislative initiative aimed at promoting inclusivity and accessibility.

With a 2025 deadline for organizations to conform, it's crucial to understand the impact the EAA will have on organizations and how they can be helped to thrive in a more accessible future.

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The EAA: Empowering Accessibility for All

The EAA stands as a milestone in the EU's commitment to creating a barrier-free and inclusive society. This legislative initiative, adopted in 2019, seeks to ensure that products and services cater to the needs of individuals with disabilities. From digital accessibility, communication and emergency services, to transportation, audiovisual media, and beyond, the EAA encompasses a wide range of areas that organizations must address.

To comply with the EAA, organizations must prioritize digital accessibility, ensuring that websites, applications, and documents meet the required standards. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and PDF/UA serve as benchmarks for achieving accessibility compliance. By embracing these standards, organizations can expand their reach and tap into a larger market while providing equal access to their products and services.

With this in mind, let’s delve into the potential ramifications that non-compliant organizations may face, and explore the lessons that can be learned from prior instances of accessibility legislation.

The Implications of Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with the EAA can have significant consequences for organizations. Just like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which caused a rush of last-minute work, the EAA's non-compliance can lead to penalties, legal disputes, and reputational damage. Therefore, it is strongly encouraged that organizations take proactive steps now to ensure they are prepared for the upcoming deadline. Accessibility is a journey and addressing it early on is crucial for those looking to avoid unnecessary complications.

Learning From Past Legislation and Getting Started

Learning from the challenges posed by previous large-scale legislation, such as GDPR, it is clear that taking action well in advance is highly beneficial. Accessibility is not something that can be solved overnight, and it requires a strategic approach. By starting now, organizations can navigate the requirements of the EAA more effectively and minimize disruptions to their operations that could be caused by the looming 2025 deadline.

Three Crucial Action Points for Getting Started

    1. Evaluate accessibility levels: Conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your website's accessibility based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and EN 301 549 accessibility standards. Identify specific areas that need improvement and prioritize them based on their impact on user experience.

    2. Seek accessibility experts: Consider engaging accessibility experts who can conduct a thorough audit and provide actionable recommendations tailored to your organization. Their expertise will help you uncover potential barriers and ensure compliance with the EAA.

    3. Develop a compliance strategy: Create a roadmap that addresses the identified accessibility gaps and outlines the necessary changes. Consider factors such as user testing, functionality preservation, and aligning with additional requirements set by member states.

 

By embracing these proactive measures, your organization can embark on a journey towards accessibility compliance, promoting inclusivity and ensuring equal access for all users. Moreover, by acting now, you can establish your organization as a champion of accessibility, fostering trust, and cultivating positive relationships with your user base.

Final Thoughts and Key Takeaways

As the EAA evolves, it's crucial to stay informed about updates and changes as they happen to ensure compliance with the 2025 deadline. It’s a good idea to monitor official guidelines and reports provided by the European Commission to ensure compliance obligations and best practices are met. Remember, accessibility is an ongoing process, and continuous improvement is key to creating a more inclusive society.

At the end of the day, the EAA represents a transformative leap toward inclusivity and equal access for all individuals. By taking proactive steps now, organizations can prepare themselves for the 2025 deadline, tap into a larger market, foster loyalty, and contribute to a more accessible future. Don't wait until the last minute. Start your accessibility journey today.

Want to see how your website’s accessibility stacks up? Try our Quick Check Tool for a fast accessibility evaluation

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