What is the European Accessibility Act?
Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the accessibility requirements for products and services (Text with EEA relevance) requires that, from 28th June 2025, a range of specified products and services are designed, and where necessary manufactured, to ensure that they are accessible to persons with disabilities. The directive is known as the European Accessibility Act.
The European Accessibility Act (EAA) focuses mainly on digital products and services and does not cover areas such as health care services, education, housing, or household products, which may include such examples as ovens, washing machines/dishwashers and other similar large and small appliances. Unlike its companion directive the Web Accessibility Directive (WAD), the EAA applies to private companies selling products or services that:
- are seen as highly important for persons with disabilities,
- have wide ranging accessibility requirements across the member states.
Main aims of the European Accessibility Act
The main aims of the European Accessibility Act are:
- Bring benefits to businesses, people with disabilities and older people by increasing the availability of accessible products and services across the EU
- Ensure that accessibility requirements for certain products and services (such as computers and their Operating Systems and self-service terminals) are harmonised across the EU thereby guaranteeing that the manufacture and sale of these products and services adopts consistent approaches to accessibility across jurisdictions
- Clarify existing obligations under EU legislation in respect of accessibility in particular in public procurement and structural funds thereby ensuring that products and services acquired by public-sector organisations meet the needs of persons with disabilities.
Under the EAA, member states will now have a set of common accessibility rules to follow, thereby making it easier for private companies to sell compliant products and services in all areas of the EU, which will increase selection for consumers.
Benefits of the European Accessibility ActThere are many expected benefits from implementation of the Act for both people with disabilities and companies alike.
Benefits for Persons with Disabilities
For people with disabilities the benefits include:
- Older people, people with temporary disabilities, people traveling with luggage, etc. will all benefit from more accessible services and devices
- A single market for accessible products and services will mean lower prices, more choices, and more innovation
- Harmonized accessibility requirements will allow companies to better share research, technology, and ideas from which everyone can benefit
- A strong requirement in the EU for a standardized level of accessibility may have a “Brussels effect,” which will likely lead to other countries outside the EU, adopting the same standards so they can easily sell products/services in the EU
- Persons with Disabilities can enjoy more freedom of movement and employment between member states as they can count on standardized levels of accessibility
- More employment opportunities for disabled people to work with creating accessible products/services