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4th European eAccessibility Forum

eAccessibility of Public Services in Europe

12/04/2010, 9:00 - 18:00
Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie - Paris, France

  Version française
Printable version

Keynote : Agenda for an eAccessible European Union

Miguel GONZALEZ-SANCHO (Brussels (Belgium))
Deputy Head of Unit for ICT for Inclusion in the European Commission, Directorate-General Information Society & Media

Speaker's information


Miguel González-Sancho is Deputy Head of the Unit "ICT for Inclusion" in the European Commission since 2007. His responsibilities include policy, research and deployment support on eAccessibility, as well as general EU eInclusion policy in the framework of EU information society strategy.

He started working for the European Commission in 1995, joining the Directorate General for Information Society and Media (DG INFSO) in 1999, where he has hold different positions relating to EU legislation and policy on ICT.

He holds degrees in law and international relations, as well as masters in business administration and European policies.



[Notice : The short papers of this conference have been prepared by BrailleNet who accept any responsibility for them. But presentation materials provided for download (full-papers or slides) have been provided by the authors themselves]

Much remains to be done to improve the status of e-accessibility in Europe, according to the information available to the European Commission. This said, awareness and commitment has been recently growing amongst industry and public authorities.


The Commission continues to support progress on e-accessibility with the instruments at its disposal in policy, legislation, funding, analysis and dissemination. It has recently adopted a new political framework for the next years, "Europe 2020", announcing amongst several flagship initiatives a "European Digital Agenda" and explicitly referring to e-accessibility.


Moreover, the Convention of the United Nations on the rights of persons with disabilities provides a strong set of legal and moral commitments, comprising several references to technology. All Convention signatories, including the European Community and all its Member States, are bound to act and deliver on those commitments.


Against this background, the Commission is currently preparing a "European disability strategy 2020", following on its previous action plans in this area and in response to the UN Convention.


As for European Community legislation, the European Parliament and Council recently adopted a revised framework for electronic communications (telecoms) which the Member States will have to transpose by mid-2011. This revised framework basically reinforces and complements the provisions on disability that exist in legislation currently applicable. Moreover, the Commission will consider how to follow-up on provisions on e-accessibility in other pieces of European legislation, e.g. on audio-visual and copyright.

In this connection, the work continues on European standardization mandate 376 on public procurement of accessible ICT goods and services, the outcome of which shall provide an essential piece of the e-accessibility framework in Europe. Other relevant European standardization activities are planned.

As for European funding for research on e-accessibility, this has materialized in a high number of projects over the years addressing various aspects related to disabilities and to the, sometimes closely related topic, of technology to support the elderly. The Commission prepares new calls for proposals in these areas for the near future.

There is also European funding for deployment of technology-enabled services and devices for accessibility and to support the elderly, under the Policy Support Programme. In addition to the ongoing projects, there is a call for proposals currently open under this Programme which includes objectives on e-accessibility. Also under the same funding programme, the Commission intends to launch soon a "thematic network" on support to e-accessibility policy.

Moreover, the Commission is currently conducting, through independent contractors, a series of studies on e-accessibility aiming at providing further analysis and evidence in support of policy action in this area. These studies are on the monitoring of e-accessibility national policies and market status, economic and social impact of e-accessibility, and the market of assistive technologies. In addition, the Commission continues to support the exchange of practices through the www.epractice.eu platform.

Regarding relevant e-accessibility topics, the Commission observes the momentum around improving web accessibility, in the wake of the adoption in the W3C of the WCAG 2.0, and wishes to support these efforts. EU Member States should continue working in that direction and the European level should contribute as necessary, notably in view to avoid fragmentation of approaches across Europe. The Commission obviously also supports cooperation efforts amongst stakeholders regarding accessibility of other communication platforms such as digital television.

One topic that is mobilizing increasing attention and resources is ageing and the role that technology can play in addressing the challenges associated therewith. Ageing is closely related to disability and thus, in the field of technology for or around the elderly, e-accessibility aspects are extremely relevant.

To conclude, the Commission continues and will continue to play an important role in promoting e-accessibility and working in general for better life conditions of persons with disabilities. Traditionally, this is not an area where progress is easy and quick, but only after laborious and sustained efforts. These efforts must continue in view to promote better technology for all, i.e. more accessible technology, and even most importantly: ensure equal rights of participation in society for everyone.

Video of the keynote by Miguel Gonzales-Sancho ( in French,on DailyMotion)

first part

second part


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