Accessibility of public sector websites and mobile apps
Directive (EU) 2016/2102 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies
It aims to make public sector websites and mobile applications more accessible, and to harmonise varying standards within the EU, reducing barriers for developers of accessibility-related products and services.
This will allow EU citizens, particularly those with a disability, to gain better access to public services, an underlying principle of the EU’s Digital Agenda for Europe and eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020.
EU countries must ensure that websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies are ‘more accessible’, particularly for people with disabilities, by making them ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’. The accessibility standard will be set out in a harmonised European standard. In absence of a harmonised standard, the relevant parts of European standard EN 301 549 V1.1.2 (2015-04) should be the relevant accessibility standard, complemented with technical specifications for mobile applications.
Public sector bodies must regularly provide a detailed, comprehensive and clear statement on how their websites and mobile applications comply with this directive, including:
an explanation for any inaccessible elements, and information on accessible alternatives;
a description on how a user may report any failure to comply with this directive, and to request information that is excluded from the scope of this directive;
a link to a complaint mechanism if the response is inadequate.
EU countries must also:
facilitate the application of the accessibility requirements to other type of websites and mobile applications covered by existing national laws;
facilitate training programmes on the accessibility of websites and mobile applications;
raise awareness of the accessibility requirements;
share best practice, facilitated by the European Commission;
ensure the availability of an effective enforcement procedure;
bring into force the legislation necessary to comply with this directive by 23 September 2018.
EU countries may maintain or enact legislation which goes beyond the minimum requirements of this directive.
This directive does not apply to public service broadcasters or non-governmental organisations that do not provide services that are essential to the public or specifically for people with disabilities. In addition, it does not apply to the following content elements:
office file formats published before 23 September 2018, unless needed for administrative processes by the public sector body concerned;
audio or video published before 23 September 2020;
live audio or video;
online mapping, as long as essential navigational information is provided in an accessible manner;
third-party content not under the control of the public sector body concerned;
reproductions of heritage items or manuscripts in certain circumstances;
extranet and intranet content intended for a closed group of people, published before 23 September 2019, until they have a major update;
websites not updated or edited after 23 September 2019 (archives), if their content is not needed for administrative processes.
EU countries may exclude the websites and mobile applications of schools, kindergartens or nurseries, except for content relating to essential online administrative functions.
EU countries must monitor compliance using a methodology to be adopted by the Commission by 23 December 2018. The methodology should include:
the periodicity of the monitoring and website sampling arrangements;
the sampling of web pages, of the content on those pages and of the content of mobile apps;
a description of the way to determine compliance;
where deficiencies are found, a mechanism to help public sector bodies correct them; and
arrangements for automatic, manual and usability tests.
By 23 December 2021, and every 3 years after that, EU countries will submit to the Commission a report that presents the results of monitoring and information on the use of the enforcement procedure. The first report will also cover:
consultation arrangements with stakeholders (organisations of persons with disabilities and of the elderly, social partners, industry and others) on the accessibility of websites and mobile applications;
procedures to publicise developments in accessibility policy;
experiences and findings from the implementation of the directive; and
information on training and awareness-raising activities.
The content of all the reports will be made public in an accessible format. The application of the directive will be reviewed by the Commission before 23 June 2022.
Application & Background
It has applied since 22 December 2016. EU countries have to incorporate it into national law by 23 September 2018. They will apply these measures as follows:
from 23 September 2019 for websites published after 22 September 2018;
from 23 September 2020 for all other websites of public sector bodies;
from 23 June 2021 for mobile applications of public sector bodies.
For more information, see:
Web accessibility (European Commission)
Commission proposes to make products and services more accessible to the disabled persons — press release (European Commission)
Statement by Vice-President Ansip and Commissioner Oettinger welcoming the adoption of the first EU-wide rules to make public sector websites and apps more accessible (European Commission)
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (United Nations)
New European Standard on accessibility requirements for public procurement of ICT products and services (ETSI).
Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2016 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies (OJ L 327, 2.12.2016, pp. 1-15)
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: EU eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 — Accelerating the digital transformation of government (COM(2016) 179 final, 19.4.2016)
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: European Disability Strategy 2010-2020: A Renewed Commitment to a Barrier-Free Europe (COM(2010) 636 final, 15.11.2010)
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — A Digital Agenda for Europe (COM(2010) 245 final/2, 26.8.2010)