Public Sector bodies in Ireland must ensure their websites and mobile apps are accessible to people with disabilities. These obligations are set out in the Disability Act 2005, Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information Provided by Public Bodies (PDF), EU Public Procurement Directives and the EU Web Accessibility Directive (WAD).

 Care should be taken to ensure that legal requirements are addressed when planning a particular procurement as failure to adequately account for the impact of the relevant policy, circular or legislation can lead to additional costs and burdens.

The four principles of accessibility are set out as the “essential requirements” in the EU WAD which public sector websites and mobile apps must comply with. The four principles - Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust - and the associated Success Criteria should be considered in all five steps of the procurement process as follows:

  1. Reviewing Accessibility Capacity in Exclusion and Selection Criteria   
  2. Identifying Technical Specifications
  3. Defining Award Criteria
  4. Selecting and Evaluating Supplier Tenders
  5. Managing Accessibility after Procurement

Any public body procuring a website or mobile app will need to consider how to confirm the deliverables meet statutory accessibility requirements. This may require upskilling of relevant staff or sourcing external evaluators who specialise in accessibility. See NDA’s guidance and training on web accessibility.

The EU Public Procurement Directives also provides that the use of digital communication used in procurement by public bodies should take account of accessibility for persons with disabilities. This would include notices and documents on websites, as well as the websites themselves.

Further legislative developments that will impact this area include Directive 2019/882, the European Accessibility Act (EAA). The EAA will introduce minimum and standardised accessibility requirements for certain products and services across the EU. The EAA will create new obligations for operators in both the public and private sectors, as well as Member States. The EAA has been transposed into Irish Regulations under the S.I 636/2023.

Reviewing Accessibility Capacity in Exclusion and Selection Criteria

Exclusion Criteria

The EU Public Procurement Directives provide for the exclusion of a supplier from participation in the procurement procedure if it has previously failed to meet the requirements related to accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Selection Criteria

Setting selection criteria for the required supplier’s accessibility capacity is part of procurement planning. You may ask suppliers to define or demonstrate how they will ensure the website or mobile app is designed, developed and delivered to be fully compliant with the applicable the European accessibility standard EN 301 549 “Accessibility Requirements for ICT products and services”. Suppliers should be able to demonstrate their accessibility capacity by indicating the relevant qualifications, experience, and training of its staff. They may also indicate the number of staff that will be assigned to the accessibility aspects of the project. Where a supplier is part of a consortium, they may need to demonstrate the accessibility capacity of their co-applicants.

Examples of past work

Examples of past projects can indicate a supplier’s ability to deliver fully accessible websites or mobile apps. Request and review examples of prior work and references from past clients. Consider carrying out some "Easy checks” yourself as per guidance from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These checks cover a number of accessibility issues and are designed to be quick and easy, rather than definitive – a more robust assessment would be needed to evaluate accessibility comprehensively.

Conducting "Easy Checks

On an example webpage there should be

  • A page title (present, accurate)
  • Clear alternative text for every image (that is non-decorative)
  • Good contrast between text and background (observe using Colour Contrast Analyser)
  • Interactive elements (buttons, links) that can be operated by keyboard only - pressing tab or arrow keys

An Accessibility Statement (present, accessible from homepage, up to date) Axe DevTools plug-in can be used to automatically test for accessible formatting errors across a range of website content and components.

Identifying Technical Specifications

As per Article 42 on Technical Specifications of Directive 2014/24/EU, public bodies must include reference to accessibility requirements included in other EU Directives.

Goods and services, intended for use by people, are required to take into account accessibility, except in duly justified cases. These requirements are provided for in the Disability Act 2005, and the Code of Practice on Accessibility of Public Services and Information Provided by Public Bodies (PDF) (S.I. No.163/2006), along with the EU Web Accessibility Directive (S.I No. 358/2020).

The harmonised standard EN 301 549 “Accessibility Requirements for ICT Products and Services” is referenced in the OJEU (Official Journal of the EU) as a means to show presumption of conformity with “essential requirements” of the EU WAD. Therefore, EN 301 549 must be included as a mandatory requirement in the public procurement of websites and mobile apps. EN 301 549 includes a description of the test procedures and evaluation methodology for each accessibility requirement in a form suitable for use in procurement.

Once a public body has specified the mandatory level of accessibility to be met, they will need a clear strategy for selecting and evaluating the tenders and to confirm the deliverables against the Technical Specifications. This is discussed in Step 4 (Selecting and Evaluating Supplier Tenders).

Defining Award Criteria

Establish award criteria that will help demonstrate if suppliers have demonstrated how they will surpass the minimum level of accessibility defined in the Technical Specifications. Examples of this can include:

  • Going beyond minimal compliance with the standard, for example meeting some or all of the WCAG 2.1 AAA criteria.
  • The processes used such as a Universal Design approach
  • Identifying user needs, characteristics, capabilities and preferences
  • User testing with a diverse range of users and persons with a disability, revealing if the deliverable will work - how, where and the context of use
  • Compatibility and operability with assistive technologies

Public bodies should give appropriate consideration and weighting to accessibility requirements during the scoring and evaluation stages of procurement. When suppliers are asked to make presentations, they should be asked to discuss accessibility in those presentations. For example, it is NDA internal policy that a minimum of 10% of the overall award criteria be reserved for accessibility considerations.

Public bodies should include a specific period that the supplier will be responsible for addressing and resolving accessibility issues if uncovered during testing and evaluation of deliverables.

Selecting and Evaluating Supplier Tenders

Selecting and evaluating tenders can be challenging, especially if there are multiple suppliers with similar capacity.

Plan to gather a dedicated team with varied skills and background to assess tender responses. This may require specialist skills which should, if possible, be developed within the public body. If this is not possible, they will need to work with an external evaluator who specialises in accessibility. This requires significant time and budget to achieve. As a minimum, make sure all team members have an understanding of the POUR principles (above) and associated Success Criteria. In addition, an Access Officer should have experience and knowledge about the accessibility needs of a public body’s customers and may be able to help assess the accessibility requirements set out in the tender.

Public bodies need to assess the following:

  • The supplier’s accessibility capacity - including the accessibility of prior work and references from past clients
  • How the supplier will confirm the level of accessibility defined in the Technical Specification
  • How accessibility is treated in the supplier’s process and design approach
  • How present and future supplier staff are prepared to maintain accessibility compliance
  • If the supplier proposes to go beyond meeting the minimum accessibility standard specified

Managing Accessibility after Procurement

Evaluation of Deliverables

It is important not to assume a deliverable is accessible. Evaluate each deliverable according to the accessibility requirements in the Technical Specifications and Award Criteria set out. As when selecting and evaluating tenders, evaluating deliverables may require contributions from upskilled internal staff or external evaluators.

Maintaining Accessibility

As new content, upgrades and features are added to a website or app, the level of accessibility can be impacted. Whether in-house or through a contractor, the accessibility of websites and apps must be maintained and should be continuously improved.

Maintaining websites and apps often relies on managing contracts for a Service Level Agreement (SLA). An SLA can help to:

  • maintain the level of accessibility over time
  • address issues not fixed before the website/app launch
  • inform the Accessibility Statement provided for the website or mobile app, ensuring it reflects an accurate description of the level of compliance, known accessibility issues and plans to remediate same
  • ensure that new upgrades (e.g. third party plug-ins) or features do not impact accessibility or user experience for people with disability respond to changes to standards that affect compliance.


The list of references below provides additional information on legislation and practical guides to accessibility for website and mobile app design.