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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

Towards a comprehensive and future-proof European e-Accessibility directive from a rights-based and market-related perspective

European Disability Forum

Speaker's information

Rodolfo Cattani

Rodolfo CATTANI is the Secretary of the European Disability Forum. He has a University degree in Philosophy of Science from Bologna University. He worked as a school teacher for 13 years and for almost 20 years he was Managing Director of the Italian National Library for the Blind.  Since 1969, he has occupied several positions within the Italian Union of the Blind and Partially Sighted, where he is currently a member of the National Council. Since 1984 he has occupied various positions within the World Blind Union and the European Blind Union where at present, he is the Chairman of the Commission for Liaising with the EU. He is currently the Secretary General of the European Disability Forum (EDF). He was/is member of the following advisory bodies:

    eAccessibility Expert Group (eEurope 2005) of DG Employment and Social Affairs (European Commission), 2003-2005
    CEN / ISSS (CEN's Information Society Standardization System) workshop on web accessibility certification, 2005-2006
    Design for All Working Group of ANEC (European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation) since 2006
    DG Information Society and Media (European Commission) e-Inclusion Partnership 2006-2009; European Multi Stakeholder platform (MSP) on ICT standardization since 2012.



The information society brings unprecedented scope for equal access to information, goods and services. However, less than 10% of public sector bodies' websites providing access to information and services follow accessibility standards. There is an urgent need to fully address e-accessibility across all platforms and to ensure that both devices and content are accessible to persons with disabilities.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been ratified by the European Union and entered into force on 22nd January 2011. Most EU Member States have also ratified the Convention which recognizes accessibility as a general principle (Article 3) and access to information and communications to be of universal application (Article 9).

The European Disability Forum (EDF) has been advocating for a binding legislation on e-Accessibility for many years and put forward a proposal for a Directive on the accessibility of public bodies' websites for persons with disabilities and older people.

Finally, in December 2012 the European Commission released a proposal for a Directive on the accessibility of public sector bodies' websites (Com(2012)721). The proposal lays down specific technical provisions whereby member States shall make accessible the content of certain types of websites of public sector bodies which provide basic information and services for citizens' participation in the economy and society according to standardized requirements.

The disability movement deemed the directive too narrow in scope, and were concerned that no satisfactory enforcement and monitoring mechanisms were written into the proposal. Its legal basis was also limited to the Internal Market (TFEU article 114).

As a consequence EDF decided to continue its campaign and started a fruitful collaboration with the European Parliament, which on the 26 of February at its penultimate plenary session of this mandate approved a far more ambitious "Proposal For A Directive Of The European Parliament And of The Council on the accessibility of public sector bodies' websites and websites operated by entities performing public tasks". The directive now includes all public websites and also those websites belonging to private entities that are providing basic services to the public. The Parliament has also introduced a strong enforcement mechanism, including penalties for those who do not comply with the law, as well as a monitoring and reporting mechanism in which the representative organisations of persons with disabilities will be involved.

The EDF believes that the proposal adopted by the European Parliament will not only benefit persons with disabilities and older people but also reduce the digital divide all over Europe.

The EDF is now calling on all Member States to prioritize this dossier and get it adopted as soon as possible. If accessibility is effectively mainstreamed in the whole ICT sector we are likely to live in a more inclusive digital society where persons with disabilities will enjoy the same rights and opportunities as their non-disabled fellow citizens.

video of the presentation by Rodolfo Catani

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