Navigating the European Accessibility Act (EAA): A Guide for Digital Accessibility

Navigating the European Accessibility Act: A Guide for Digital Companies

Table of Contents

Why is accessibility important?


Around 1.3 billion people worldwide (16% of the population) face daily challenges due to various disabilities. The ‘design for all’ concept seeks to break down barriers, and enable digital accessibility. It’s crucial to remember, making your software accessible isn’t just about inclusivity; it’s also a legal requirement across the world.

The U.S. has long required federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities. This global trend is growing: the European Accessibility Act, set for June 2025, will broaden these requirements across the EU for businesses of all sizes. In Canada, new rules are rolling out too: by June 1, 2024, organizations with 10 to 99 employees must meet accessibility standards, with penalties up to CAD$250,000 for violations.

What is the European Accessibility Act?

European Accessibility Act EU directive to improve accessibility for products and services

The European Accessibility Act is a directive designed to make a broad array of products and services more accessible to people with disabilities. Its goal is to enhance the availability of accessible products and services across EU countries, creating a more inclusive marketplace with competitive prices. This act spans several sectors, including technology, banking, and public services, ensuring access for people with disabilities, the elderly, and anyone with temporary impairments. It also opens up new business opportunities by standardizing accessibility rules across the EU, promoting a market that prioritizes inclusivity.

What products and services are covered by the European Accessibility Act

The European Accessibility Act sets standards for a variety of products and services to meet the accessibility needs of people with disabilities in different EU countries. These include the following products and services:

Products

  • Computers and operating systems
  • Smartphones and other communication devices
  • TV equipment related to digital television services
  • ATMs and payment terminals (e.g., card payment machines in supermarkets)
  • E-readers
  • Ticketing and check-in machines

Services

  • Phone services
  • Banking services
  • E-commerce
  • Websites, mobile services, electronic tickets, and all sources of information for air, bus, rail, and waterborne transport services
  • E-books
  • Access to Audio-visual media services (AVMS)
  • Calls to the European emergency number 112
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What are the minimum standards for accessibility set by the European Accessibility Act?

The European Accessibility Act sets minimum standards for accessibility that must be met by products and services to ensure compliance with the directive. These are:

  • Design and functionality of user interfaces for products and services
  • Provision of instructions, support services, and information in an accessible manner
  • Adequacy of websites, mobile device-based services, and related online applications
  • Specific requirements for certain products and services like consumer banking services and e-commerce services

What are the consequences of non-compliance with the European Accessibility Act?

Non-compliance with the European Accessibility Act can lead to various consequences. Here are the key ones:

  1. Legal consequences: Non-compliance with the European Accessibility Act could result in lawsuits and financial penalties for organizations neglecting accessibility standards.
  2. Reputation risks: Ignoring accessibility laws can damage an organization’s reputation, affecting trust, morale, relationships, and ability to attract investors.
  3. Public contract exclusion: Non-compliance could disqualify organizations from public contract bids.
  4. Missed Opportunities: Ignoring digital accessibility excludes potential customers with disabilities, leading to lost business and market share.
  5. Costly Adjustments: Implementing accessibility retroactively can be significantly more expensive and disruptive than incorporating it from the start.

What to implement to meet digital accessibility requirements?

Consider the following actions to ensure the digital accessibility of your website or product:

Digital accessibility requirements. Lingoport blog. It's crucial to remember, making your software accessible isn't just about inclusivity; it's also a legal requirement across the world.

How to make your product accessibility compliant?

To make your software accessible, you will need:

  • in-depth knowledge of solutions to the requirements needed.
  • experience with implementing a wide range of Accessibility technologies
  • a team composed of a project lead, UX/UI designers, developers, and testers with accessibility know-how

To navigate these challenges, Lingoport offers specialized Accessibility Services. Our team of experts is ready to help your application become fully accessible to people with disabilities, ensuring you meet legal standards and promote inclusivity. With Lingoport, you can confidently achieve compliance with the European Accessibility Act and other global accessibility regulations.

FAQ

What is the difference between the EAA and WCAG?

In summary, the EAA sets legal accessibility requirements for a wide range of products and services within the EU, while WCAG offers international guidelines specifically focused on web accessibility. Compliance with the EAA is mandatory and subject to legal enforcement, whereas WCAG compliance is voluntary but highly influential globally.

What are the deadlines for accessibility laws? 

The deadline to meet EU accessibility standards under the European Accessibility Act is June 28, 2025. By this date, companies must ensure their products and services are accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities, to avoid fines and meet regulatory requirements.

Which businesses and countries are affected by the EAA?

Businesses based in the EU or targeting the EU market must comply with the EAA’s accessibility requirements for their products and services. Compliance includes adhering to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for web content accessibility.

Author

Picture of Kate Vostokova
Kate Vostokova
Kate is a seasoned B2B content marketing manager with a five-year journey in the localization industry. She is passionate about crafting various types of content to educate people about internationalization (i18n), localization, and the latest technological advances, including Large Language Models (LLMs).
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