Author: Carlos Muncharaz, Accessibility Specialist at Springer Nature, European Disability Forum ICT Expert Group member

 

The European Union is heading towards a more sustainable, efficient, digital future. The targets of Europe’s Digital Decade for 2030 include empowering digital citizenship, digital business transformation, and 100% online public services.

 

We realized the benefits of digital services during the Coronavirus pandemic, when we had to go online to keep business running. Those benefits include no need to arrange appointments, nor to travel to public offices, nor to queue to be attended.

 

Most importantly, Internet provides huge benefits to people with disabilities. To cite a couple of examples only: thanks to Internet, deaf people don’t have to struggle with phone calls; thanks to Internet, blind people don’t have to deal with printed materials.

 

Web content can be adapted to different needs, and that’s great for accessibility. The digital transformation must be accessible to include everyone. Therefore, the European Disability Forum advocates for accessibility through policy and legislation.

 

Accessibility legislation in Europe is recent and its transformation should happen along the digital transformation. The Web Accessibility Directive (adopted in 2016) requires public sector websites and mobile applications to be accessible. The European Accessibility Act (adopted in 2019) extends the accessibility requirement to a number of products and services (banking, e-commerce, e-books, passenger transport, audiovisual media, computers, smartphones, television, ATMs, ticketing machines).

 

European digital transformation means there’s an increasing need for accessible content, accessibility professionals, and accessibility training. The ENTELIS+ project is contributing to that needed training. ENTELIS+ introductory modules include an overview on accessibility and related legislation. More advanced modules include training on assistive technologies, creation of accessible content, and resources for professional development on ICT accessibility.