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European Parliament passes European Accessibility Act

Wednesday 13 March 2019

A plenary session of the European Parliament has passed the European Accessibility Act, which aims to ensure that products and services are more accessible for persons with disabilities. The Act aims to improve the accessibility of products and services for persons with disabilities, including computers, smartphones, tablets, TV sets, banking ATM and services, payment terminals, e-books and e-readers, e-commerce websites and mobile apps and ticketing machines. It also fulfilled two important demands from the disability movement: electronic telecommunications and the 112-emergency number will become accessible to everyone throughout the EU.

The legislation also allows national market surveillance bodies to be given the competence to hold private entities accountable. The requirements of the Act will also support public procurement rules for accessible products and services, so public authorities do not anymore use tax payers’ money in products, services and facilities that are discriminatory of persons with disabilities. However, the Act does not include the accessibility of buildings or transport, nor does it cover household appliances. As such, a number of products and services may continue to be inaccessible to people with disabilities. Furthermore, microenterprises providing services are exempt from the requirements of the Act. Before coming into effect, the legislation must be formally approved by the Council of the EU, before being published in the EU’s Official Journal. As the legislation is a European Directive, Member States will then have three years to transpose it into national law.