Digital accessibility is the practice of adapting websites, mobile applications and digital documents so that all users can access them. There are almost 80 million people with some form of disability in Europe. Whether it is people with visual difficulties (blind, visually impaired, people who cannot distinguish colors), people who have hearing difficulties (deaf, hard of hearing) or people who have motor and cognitive difficulties. There are also a large number of elderly populations who need to adapt their access to content.
Regulate website with the Digital Accessibility Act
The European Union has adopted Directive (EU) 2016/2102 on the accessibility of public sector bodies websites and mobile applications. The directive obliges its member states to adopt a national regulation governing this area. That is why the Republic of Croatia passed the Law on Accessibility of Websites and Software Solutions for Mobile Devices of Public Sector Bodies, which entered into force on 23 September 2019.
What are public sector bodies obliged to do to ensure the accessibility of their digital content and services?
Public sector bodies are obliged to adapt their digital content and services in accordance with the European standard EN301549. The steps we need to take to ensure digital accessibility are:
- Conduct an initial assessment (assessment of the extent to which public sector bodies’ websites and software solutions are adapted to the prescribed accessibility requirements)
- Customize web pages and software solutions for mobile devices
- Publish and regularly update the accessibility statement
Digital Accessibility Statement
Every online content and application, the original application for mobile devices and desktop computers, must have a prominent statement of digital accessibility. The digital accessibility statement must include an explanation of the parts of the content that are not accessible, the reasons for this inaccessibility and the possibilities of providing accessible alternatives. It needs to be regularly updated and data published for the possibility of pointing out shortcomings in order to improve digital accessibility.
Technological advances for the benefit of users and enabling barrier-free living
The current law requires the adjustment of content for public bodies and those who are users of the state budget. The use of Internet content must be accessible and possible to all. By raising awareness of the needs of citizens with some form of disability, all possible content needs to be adapted. Although we are not yet bound by the Law, we have a duty and obligation to provide equal access for all. By providing access to more users, we are expanding both the market and our business.