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Everything on EAA/EN301549 Compliance


What is EAA/EN 301549?

The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is legislation that was passed by the E.U. in April 2019 to require accessibility for digital products and services.  

EN 301549 is a policy document produced by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), which is the E.U. agency that regulates the digital sphere. EN 301549 defines official standards for web accessibility. 

When did EAA and EN 201549 take effect?

Establishing European policy on web accessibility was a long and complicated process. Beginning in the early 2000s, E.U. authorities made policy decisions that address the needs of citizens with disabilities. 

Milestones along the road to full web accessibility laws include:

The latest version of EN 301549 was released in 2018, based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It was designed to reflect other national and international protocols such as the American Section 508. However, the standards weren’t enforced by law until the EAA was passed in 2019. 

The EAA gives private companies 5 years to comply with its requirements, until June 28, 2025. 

What are the requirements of the EAA?

The EAA doesn’t state-specific accessibility standards or requirements for compliance, because it wants to leave flexibility within the law. The EAA official Fact Sheet states that the law will “not impose detailed technical solutions telling how to make” a site compliant, although you’ll find general requirements and non-binding examples within the legislation. For example, the EAA requires that no website or digital service be limited to a single mode of interaction, so audio content must also be accessible through captions, and written text through a screen reader. 

But in practice, there are many indications that companies have to meet the standards of EN 301549. For a start, it’s only natural for regulators to consult the EU’s official document defining web accessibility when assessing website compliance. 

Second, EN 301549 was referenced repeatedly in the run-up to the codifying of the EAA, like in the law's proposal text.

Finally, the European Disability Forum (EDF), which is one of the main non-governmental advocates of the EAA, has made several formal recommendations that EN 301549 should be the foundation for E.U. accessibility law. Considering that the EDF was one of the key consultants on the formulation of the EAA, it is almost certain that regulators will follow the group’s guidance on this point too. 

Who has to follow the EAA?

The EAA is deliberately designed so that it’s not a blanket law affecting all industries. The EAA clearly defines which products and services are subject to the new law. They include:

  • Computers and operating systems
  • Telephone services and related equipment
  • Audiovisual media services, such as television broadcast and related consumer equipment
  • Services related to air, bus, rail, and other passenger transport
  • Banking services
  • eBooks
  • eCommerce

Although it’s originally aimed at public and governmental groups, it also affects private businesses. Companies that provide services for government agencies in Europe will need to be sure their accessibility standards measure up. The EAA also requires all online business services to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

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Partner Testimonial
"My name is Tara, Director of Client Services at SellSide Media. As a marketing agency, our goal is to drive growth for our clients, and accessibility was never really discussed. At least until recently, as a revenue driver. But now that being compliant is as simple as adding a line of code we believe that our clients will benefit not only from avoiding litigation but..."
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"Hi, I'm Sisi and I'm 47 years old, and I've been blind since birth. I've been using technology for many many years now for almost any aspect of my life. Once you're heavily dependent on technology an inaccessible website with poor interaction with the screen reader can make things much more difficult. You know those colorful ads on the internet with beautiful women..."
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"Hi, my name is Neil, owner of a boutique Italian restaurant called Pozza. We are a boutique restaurant and as such, we have put a lot of effort into building a beautiful website to showcase our place, our food, and everything else. Problem is, this beautiful website got us sued, twice. Now, the first lawsuit was prior to accessiBe and to settle it, we asked our web..."
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"A lot of people really don't know what Parkinson's is, nor do they know that there's a large community that has to live with it every single day. My name is Amy, and I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease twelve years ago. Before Parkinson's diagnosis, I was a content writer with high tech companies. I really loved it; I learned something new every day. Since my..."
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"Hi, my name is Joseph, and I suffer from quadriplegia. This means I'm paralyzed from my chest down. I basically can't move my fingers, I can only do certain movements with my wrists. I'm 27 years old, and I'm studying data science. I really love technology. I'm constantly on the web engaging with software, like most of us today. But when I visit a website that is not..."
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"My name is Itai, I'm a Project Manager here at Market Across. accessiBe has helped us in many ways. One of the challenges we face is providing our clients with websites that look and operate impeccably while maintaining accessibility and compliance, which can sometimes conflict. We started by doing the compliance work manually for each project, but that was a hell of..."
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