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Website accessibility and the European Union: citizenship, procurement and the proposed Accessibility Act

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date21/03/2013
JournalInternational Review of Law, Computers and Technology
Journal number1-2
Volume27
Number of pages13
Pages187-199
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Websites can be accessible to all if they are designed according to certain principles. Website accessibility has long been a European Union policy priority, particularly with the growth of egovernment services and the related impact on citizenship. A number of studies, while showing some improvement in accessibility, indicate the need for accessibility improvement in relation to egovernment services. This article outlines the European Union's policies on accessible websites and the related legislation. A theme in the development of disability related Directives is fragmentation and the lack of harmonising principles. Public procurement has been used as an extremely effective tool to increase accessibility in the United States, and it is this approach that lies at the heart of the proposed Accessibility Act. This initiative seeks to harmonise standards and policies on accessibility to harness fully the power of the internal market and the commercial impetus in order to increase access. While the Accessibility Act is currently being drafted after recent public consultation, this article evaluates the potential impact it could have on the accessibility of European Union public, and ultimately, private websites.