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Accessibility UX

Understanding the European Accessibility Act: a simple guide

Stanley Walton
26 / 06 / 2024
1 people found this helpful

The deadline for the European Accessibility Act (EAA) is roughly a year away, and some business owners and decision makers are starting to wonder what this means for them. There’s a lot of information available on the accessibility guidelines that the EAA defines, but much of it is dense and complex. That’s why we’ve put together this simple guide to outline what the EAA is and what it means for your business, as well as the risks of noncompliance and how to avoid them. In particular, if you have a website dedicated to ticket sales or eCommerce in general then stay tuned for Fever’s advice on how to stay compliant.

What is the European Accessibility Act, and when does it come into effect?

The European Accessibility Act (EAA) sets common rules to make a variety of products and services more accessible across the EU, including ATMs, banking services, e-commerce and electronic communications, to name a few. Additionally, it applies to ICT products, from computers and operating systems to TV equipment and e-books. See the full list on the European Commission’s website. It aims to make sure that people with disabilities and others facing limitations can use products and services with ease.

It requires that products and services must be designed in a way that ensures accessibility for people with various types of disabilities. Some ways to do this include offering more than one sensory channel for users to operate the device or gain access to the service, providing text alternatives for non-text content, and ensuring that the product or service is compatible with assistive technologies.

The directive was adopted on 7th June 2019, and businesses have until 28th June 2025 to comply with the new rules that have been put in place, both by adapting existing products and services and by incorporating accessibility into new developments.

What does the European Accessibility Act mean for my business?

The EAA has significant implications for businesses operating within the European Union, particularly those that have an involvement in the manufacture, distribution, or sale of products and services covered by the Act. This includes any UK businesses that operate in the European Economic Area or have clients there. They should be prepared to comply with EU regulations in order to maintain market access and ensure that they meet international accessibility standards. You don’t need to worry about this legislation if your products or services fall outside the scope of the EAA, or if you do not operate in the European Economic Area. It is important to note that even if you are not legally required to comply with the guidelines in this act, website accessibility is vital.

All affected businesses must incorporate accessible features to accommodate users with disabilities. It is recommended that you integrate accessibility into the design phase in order to help you to meet requirements, as well as reducing future costs associated with retrofitting. If your business handles ICT products (like computers, smartphones, and e-readers), banking services, e-commerce, public transport, or any other areas specified by the Act, then they will have to be made sure to meet the accessibility requirements. You will be required to provide documentation demonstrating that your products and services comply with accessibility requirements.

What will happen if I don’t comply with the European Accessibility Act?

Fines and Legal Action

Repercussions such as fines and legal action will vary depending on the EU member state that the noncompliance occurs in, as national authorities are responsible for enforcing the EAA. The fines are designed to be effective, proportionate and dissuasive, in order to compel businesses to conform to the regulations. Additionally, affected individuals or regulatory bodies may take legal action against any business found to be violating the accessibility regulations, and this could result in further financial penalties and legal costs.

Market Restrictions, Increased Costs & Greater Scrutiny

Restrictions may be placed on the sale of products and services in the EU market if they are not compliant with the EAA. This would negatively impact market access, therefore impacting revenue and market share. If you are to address compliance issues reactively, after customer complaints or regulatory actions, then it can be more costly than if you were to have kept up to date on your accessibility compliance. These increased costs could be due to product recalls, redesigns, additional documentation, or the previously mentioned fines and legal costs. Also, noncompliant businesses could be subject to increased scrutiny from regulators, resulting in an increased frequency of inspections and oversight, and, by extension, higher administrative burden and operational disruptions.

Tarnished Brand Image, Customer Loyalty & Corporate Social Responsibility

Noncompliance can damage a company’s reputation as it may be seen to be a sign that the business is neglectful of inclusivity and accessibility, which can lead to negative publicity and a loss of customer trust. This loss of trust could cause a business to lose customers, especially those who find accessibility and inclusivity to be important to them. Losing the trust and business of these customers can have a long-term impact on customer loyalty and market position. Overall, failing to comply with the EAA can undermine a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, which can then impact their relationships with investors, partners and the community.

These factors can result in an overall loss of your competitive edge, as competitors who comply with the EAA will not be negatively impacted in these ways. If your business is noncompliant then you risk falling behind in innovation and market relevance, as well as driving away any potential consumers who may require accessible products and services.

How can I make sure that my business is compliant with the European Accessibility Act?

These are the recommended steps to take to ensure that you achieve compliance with the EAA:

  • Make sure that you are familiar with the Act and its requirements and determine which of your products and/or services fall under the scope of the EAA.
  • Conduct an audit to gain a better understanding of how well your current products and services meet the accessibility requirements set out by the EAA.
  • Develop a plan for when and how you are going to achieve compliance, prioritising the most critical compliance gaps and setting milestones.
  • Make necessary changes to your existing offerings in order to meet accessibility standards (e.g. software updates, hardware modifications, service redesigns, etc.), and adopt an approach of integrating accessibility into the design process of future products and services.
  • Prepare documentation detailing how your products and services comply with the EAA, and ensure that, where applicable, you have a declaration of conformity or certification from recognised bodies, in order to validate your compliance.
  • Provide your staff with training regarding the best practices for the upkeep of compliance and keep them informed of any changes in standards or regulations.
  • Implement customer feedback mechanisms, monitor the accessibility of your products and services with regular audits, and involve people with disabilities in your testing process.
  • If you feel that it is necessary, utilise software and tools designed to help with accessibility testing or consider seeking guidance from accessibility experts, legal professionals or national bodies responsible for enforcing the EAA.

eCommerce and ticket sales websites

If you are selling tickets or have an eCommerce site operating in the European Economic Area, then you need to be complaint, but don’t worry – This is Fever can help.

Fever can conduct thorough evaluations to identify accessibility issues on your website and implement best practices in design and development to ensure that your content is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. We can also provide ongoing monitoring and support, regularly testing the site to maintain compliance.

For details on another policy relating to accessibility, please see our article on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. If you have further questions, or any of This is Fever’s design or development services, then feel free to contact us.

By Stanley, Marketing Assistant

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