EU Directive on Improving Web Content Accessibility for All

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

As of the 22nd of September 2020, a new EU Directive 2016/2102 will be instated regarding web and content accessibility. Wondering how this will affect you? Continue reading to find out what this means, and what changes you will need to make to your content in the future...

Who does this directive apply to?

The EU Directive 2016/2102 applies to all websites and mobile applications controlled by bodies governed by public law. This includes state, regional, and local authorities. All associations formed by these authorities are required to follow the standards of this directive as well.

What does this mean for content creators, specifically?

This directive aims to create a more inclusive, accessible digital world. In basic terms, the content you create must be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. This means putting a bit more thought into how your web site/ web content is experienced by different types of people – for example those with disabilities that could affect their web experience.  The directive does not specifically state which actions are required, however, it can be concluded that things like alternative text for images and closed captions on videos (to accommodate those hard of hearing), or creating a website that users can use without a mouse (as this can prove difficult for individuals with certain disabilities) - are appropriate measures to implement, to make sure your website is accessible.

Existing websites will have to comply with this directive by 23 September 2020, and all mobile applications will have to be accessible by 23 June 2021.

What happens if this directive isn't followed?

The European Commission identifies possible infringements of the directive through complaints of citizens, businesses etc. Although a specific enforcement procedure detailing penalties and processes for non-compliance has not yet been issued, it is likely that large fines will be in place for those who fail to comply with this directive. 

Regular monitoring of websites and apps in the public sector will be followed through by member countries, along with regular reports of infringements to the Commission. 

For services in the public sector, compliance with this directive is obligatory. For services in the private sector, you will not be able to provide products or services (such as software) to the public sector, and you may be excluded off from this market. Consumers will generally have a higher expectation for the type of web service provided for them as a result of the mandatory changes to the public sector,

Why accessibility is important:

Did you know that 15% of people have a disability that could affect how they browse the web? Businesses have not only a legal but a moral obligation to make web services for the public as accessible as possible to everyone who may need to use them. As more and more services become digitised and the world becomes more reliant on technology, it’s important to make sure these services are accessible to everyone.

Accessibility is a positive thing! Having closed captions can actually improve your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), meaning your page will come up closer to the top when a relevant topic is searched for. This is because search engines can't watch or listen to a video, but they can index text. This means larger exposure for your site as a result of increasing your accessibility.

Click this link to find out more about different types of disabilities and how they affect one's internet experience

How Video Sherpa helps our clients fulfil the requirements

For Video Sherpa clients, this means taking advantage of the text-based closed captions tool. Existing and new video content can be edited with ease, and text-based caption can be added to your content via the Video Sherpa 'Add CC' tool on the dashboard.  

Archived content that is no longer needed for active administration processes does not need to be changed, however, everything updated or edited after Sept 22nd 2019 will have to be made accessible.  

What content is not included?

There are a few exceptions to the kinds of content covered in the directive- 

  • Archived content - meaning content that is neither needed for active administrative processes nor updated or edited after 23 September 2019.

  • Office file formats published before 23 September 2018, unless such content is needed for active administrative processes relating to the tasks performed by the public sector body concerned;

  • Online maps

  • Websites and mobile applications of public service broadcasters

  • Pre-recorded time-based media published before 23 September 2020

  • Websites and mobile applications of NGOs that do not provide services that are essential to the public, or services that specifically address the needs of, or are meant for, persons with disabilities.

  • Third-party content that is neither funded nor developed by, nor under the control of, the public sector body concerned;