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8th European e-Accessibility Forum
User-driven e-Accessibility

31/03/2014, 09:00 - 18:00 - Registration from 8:30
Cité des sciences et de l'industrie - Universcience - Paris

  Version française
Printable version

e-Accessibility: A Right for All!

Maryvonne LYAZID (Paris, France)
Défenseur des Droits

Jamshid KOHANDEL (Paris, France)
Défenseur des Droits

Speaker's information

Maryvonne Lyazid

Maryvonne LYAZID is Vice-President of the College for the fight against discrimination and the promotion of equality. She graduated from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Strasbourg and the Ecole Nationale de la Santé Publique. She began her career in 1974 in the Departmental Directorate for Health and Social Affairs of Strasbourg. In 1996, she became project manager at the Ministry of Employment and Solidarity and the State Secretariat for disabled and elderly people. Maryvonne Lyazid was also invoved in the Council of Europe and the Centre for European Studies in Strasbourg. In 2002, she became Deputy Director General of the Caisse d'Epargne Foundation for Solidarity. In 2010, she was appointed Vice-President of the French Equal Opportunities and Anti-Discrimination Commission (Haute autorité de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l'égalité or HALDE).

photo Jamshid Kohandel
 Jamshid KOHANDEL graduated from the Ecole Nationale d'Administration in France. He has held various positions in the French government, the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry, Directorate General for Enterprise. He worked for the European Commission Directorate General Information Society and Media. He currently works for the Defenseur des Droitsr, where he is responsible in particular for e-accessibility.


Equal access to information technology and communication is now recognised as a fundamental right by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is also enshrined in the legislation of a growing number of European countries. But what in fact is the situation today?

Maryvonne Lyazid

In France, the Défenseur des droits (Rights Defender) is the only independent high authority of constitutional rank and, as such, the guarantor of rights and freedoms.

Even if a right is recognised by an international convention or law, it is necessary to put mechanisms and services in place to ensure these rights are upheld. Since its inception in May 2011, the Rights Defender has noted that, despite a fairly comprehensive legislative arsenal in France including the 11 February 2005 law on equal opportunities and the inclusion of people with disabilities, there are still many people who are unable to exert their rights, mainly as a result of insufficient information, insufficient awareness, and insufficient personal support. It is the Defender’s responsibility to ensure that rights are upheld and asserted through four key activities: defending children's rights; identifying dysfunctional services; ensuring services meet security and ethical standards and fighting discrimination.

The Defender has a number of ways to ensure that rights are asserted. To raise awareness on these, he works with a committee composed of spokespersons from key charities. The Defender is particularly responsive to current affairs of an individual or collective nature.

The Defender was chosen by the Prime Minister in 2011 to be an independent body to monitor the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, pursuant to Article 33. This monitoring of the Convention, and in particular Article 9 regarding e-Accessibility, is conducted with the national consultative commission on human Rights, the national advisory council for persons with disabilities and the French disability council for European affairs. A study is also underway with a state councillor of the court of cassation to verify the direct effect of the Convention.

The Defender considers that the draft European Directive on the accessibility of public sector websites supports freedom and inclusion for all. To set a good example, the Director General and the Defender appointed a project manager to oversee the digital accessibility of the Defender’s internal and public-facing online services.


It is important that the Rights Defender sets an example and practices what it recommends to others. This is why the Defender is very committed to making its website, its intranet and its digital documents and publications accessible to all. The Defender was asked to participate in the development of accessibility guidelines for public services. Also, given that many claims relate to discrimination around disability, a number of claimants consulting digital content produced by the Defender have a disability themselves. Finally, 7.7 % of the Defender’s staff have a disability, which is above the legal requirement of 6%.The organisation's intranet is now fully accessible. All electronic applications used internally, including Agora which is used to investigate complaints and to treat all cases, will be made accessible. Specifications for the future redesign of the site include accessibility requirements, and a specialised service provider will advise the Rights Defender on this matter.

With regard to documents and publications, the ambition is that all documents produced by the Defender, whether for internal use or destined for the general public, are accessible.

Training courses on how to produce accessible documents are available for all members of staff.

video of the presentation by Maryvonne Lyazid and Jamshid Kohandel (in French)

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