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Commission proposes to make products and services more accessible to blind & disabled persons

The European Commission on Wednesday (02.12.15) proposed a European Accessibility Act, which will set common accessibility requirements for certain key products and services that will help people with disabilities at EU level to participate fully in society.
The products and services covered have been carefully selected in consultation with citizens and civil society organisations as well as businesses. They include:

  • ATMs and banking services,
  • PCs,
  • telephones and TV equipment,
  • telephony and audiovisual services,
  • transport,
  • e-books and e-commerce.

The proposal for a Directive aims to improve the functioning of the internal market, making it easier for companies to provide accessible products and services across borders. Common accessibility requirements will also apply in the frame of EU procurement rules and for the use of EU funds. The initiative will stimulate innovation and increase the offer of accessible products and services for the around 80 million persons with disabilities in the EU.
Attention has been paid to ensure proportionality of the requirements, in particular for small and micro-enterprises. A common sense clause avoids that accessibility requirements would impose a disproportionate burden and for micro-enterprises lighter compliance measures are foreseen. Experience shows that in most cases it makes good business sense to provide accessible products, in particular when accessibility is foreseen at the design phase.
The European Accessibility Act will make it easier for producers and service providers to export products and services that comply with the EU requirements, since they won’t need to adjust to divergent and often contradictory national rules. In particular, this will help small business to take full advantage of the EU market.
As a consequence, people with disabilities will benefit from a greater supply of accessible products and services at more competitive prices. The improved offer can also benefit older citizens with similar needs for accessibility, as well as others in the wider public facing challenges linked to

  • an accident,
  • a temporary illness,
  • a difficult environment such as low light or high noise.

This will help increase active participation in society, including in education and in employment, as well as autonomy and mobility opportunities.
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