Web Accessibility Directive:
Frequently Asked Questions

These are frequently asked questions and answers on the EU Web Accessibility Directive.

The objective of this website is to support the implementation of the Directive and to provide reliable information and resources to those involved in buying, designing and monitoring websites or mobile applications, as well as users. This website is maintained by the Web Accessibility Initiative - Communities of Practice (WAI-CooP) Project.

1. What is the EU Web Accessibility Directive?

The EU Web Accessibility Directive is a piece of EU law that applies in all EU countries, as well as in countries of the European Economic Area. The Directive is often referred to as the ‘Web Directive’ or ‘Web Accessibility Directive’. Its full name is ‘Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2016 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies’.

This Directive aims to make public sector websites and mobile applications more accessible, and to harmonise varying standards within the EU, reducing barriers for developers of accessibility-related products and services and providing people with disabilities with better access to online public services.

This will allow EU citizens, particularly those with a disability, to gain better access to public services.

The text of the EU Directive on Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies Websites and Mobile Applications is available in all EU languages. Its objective is to provide people with disabilities with better access to the websites and mobile apps of public services.

The Directive requires websites and apps of public sector bodies, with a limited number of exceptions (e.g. public broadcasters, live streaming), to meet specific technical accessibility standards. The Directive also requires:

The European Commission has a detailed summary of the provisions in the Directive.

2. What are the benefits of accessibility?

Digital accessibility is not just about implementing the Web Accessibility Directive’s requirements. Accessibility is essential for people with disabilities and useful for all. Watch these videos exploring the impact and benefits of accessibility for people in a variety of situations.

Designing products that are easier for older people to use is similar to designing for people with disabilities. Find out more about the overlaps between accessible design and design for older people.

Implementing accessibility has tangible and intangible benefits. Read about the business case for accessibility and find out about distinctions and overlaps between accessibility, usability, and inclusive design.

3. What are the accessibility rights of persons with disabilities?

The rights of persons with disabilities are enshrined in the United Nations Convention for the right of persons with disabilities (UNCRPD).

Several articles in the UNCRPD relate to accessibility rights, including:

The UNCRPD was ratified by the European Union, as well as all EU member states. They therefore committed to taking appropriate measures to:

State Parties have also undertaken to refrain from engaging in any act or practice that is inconsistent with the UNCRPD and to ensure that public authorities and institutions act in conformity with it.

In the EU, the Web Accessibility Directive sets out what public sector bodies must do to ensure that their websites and mobile applications are accessible. The European Commission provides more information about the Web Accessibility Directive on their website.

4. Can you provide examples of accessible websites and apps?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide a list of examples. While a website or an app may be accessible at some point, we cannot guarantee that they will not be later changed in a way that makes them inaccessible.

5. How can I do simple checks on web accessibility myself?

You don't have to be an expert to make some easy checks on the accessibility of a website: try some simple checks to assess the accessibility of a web page and learn to spot common accessibility issues.

6. What is the European Accessibility Act and how does it relate to the Web Accessibility Directive?

The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is a new piece of EU law. Its objective is to remove accessibility barriers to a range of goods and services traded in the internal market. It will make it easier for persons with disabilities to find accessible products and services.

The EAA will set new EU-wide minimum accessibility requirements for a range of products and services. This piece of EU legistion is a Directive, which means that it sets binding accessibility goals for EU Member States, who can decide how they achieve these goals.

The EAA is aligned with and complements other EU legislation tackling accessibility, such as the Web Accessibility Directive. While the Web Accessibility Directive applies to websites and apps of public sector bodies, the EAA also applies to the private sector and covers a wider range of products and services, including websites and mobile applications.

The Act came into force on 27 June 2019 and Member States have 3 years to transpose it into national law. This means they have to introduce new and/or update existing national legislation to comply with the EAA by June 2022. Businesses will then have a maximum of 3 years to prepare as they will need to comply with the EAA by no later then June 2025, when it will be fully in force.

The products and services covered by the EAA include:

With regards to websites and mobile applications, the EAA has the same accessibility requirements as the Web Accessibility Directive.

Find out more about the EAA in the European Disability Forum toolkit on the transposition of the EAA.

7. Where can I find a list of policies on web accessibility in different countries?

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) maintains an international list of laws and policies in different countries. This is currently being updated and expanded through the WAI-CooP Project.

8. Are there resources on digital accessibility in my language?

Yes, there are a range of W3C WAI documents available in languages other than English.

W3C WAI welcome help with translations, so if you want to get involved please get in touch with W3C WAI.

9. How to contact organisations with inaccessible websites and apps?

The accessibility statement on the website or app should provide a way to contact the organisation to let them know about an accessibility issue and also request alternative formats for inaccessible content. If there is no accessibility statement available, you can try other ways to contact the website owner.

When you want to highlight an issue, it is important to include the following information:

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) provides more information on contacting organisations about inaccessible websites.

10. Where can I learn about digital accessibility?

You can watch these web accessibility perspectives videos to understand how different accessibility features are essential for people with a range of disabilities, while being useful for all.

You may also want to learn how people with disabilities use the web. We also recomment you find out more about accessibility principles.

11. Where can I find information about web accessibility training and certification?

The W3C WAI developed a free introductory online foundation course on web accessibility. The course is designed for technical and non-technical learners, including developers, designers, content authors, people with disabilities or anyone else who is interested.

WAI is currently also developing a list of digital accessibility training courses and certification through the WAI-CooP Project.

The WAI Curricula provides role-based modules to help create and procure courses on web accessibility. It defines learning outcomes and provides ideas to teach and assess knowledge.

12. How do I start implementing digital accessibility?

To get started, read this introduction to web accessibility. The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has a range of resources for designers and developers including tips for designing and tips for developing, as well as resources to make audio and video media accessible.

For mobile applications, there are accessibility guidelines for Android, Apple and Microsoft.

You will need to integrate accessibility throughout your project planning. Key steps to consider include:

WAI has some tips on planning and managing accessibility in a project. We also recommend you learn about accessibility principles.

13. What resources are available to help design accessible websites and mobile applications?

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has a range of resources for designers and developers including tips for designing and tips for developing, as well as resources to make audio and video media accessible.

Mobile accessibility is covered in existing W3C web content accessibility guidelines. There are no separate guidelines for mobile accessibility.

You can find more information on mobile accessibility, as well as guidance on applying WCAG 2.0 to non-web information and communications technologies (WCAG2ICT) on the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) website.

For mobile applications, there are accessibility guidelines for Android, Apple and Microsoft.

14. Where can I find information about web accessibility standards?

In 2021 the European Commission published a new implementing decision on the harmonised standard for websites and mobile applications that provides for the presumption of conformity with the EU Web Accessibility Directive.

The current harmonised standard is EN 301 549 V3.1.2 (2021-03) [PDF Document]; it is in line with the most recent Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). Annex A of the document explains the relationship between the standard and the mandatory requirements in the EU Web Accessibility Directive. Compliance with the normative clauses of the standard as outlined in its Annex A confers a presumption of conformity with the requirements of the EU Web Accessibility Directive.

15. Where can I find information about accessible software / authoring tools?

Authoring tools are software and services that people use to produce web content. Examples of authoring tools include:

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) develops the standard called Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG). It is a companion to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and can be used to develop and procure accessible authoring tools.

WAI also has some tips on how to choose authoring tools to produce accessible content but warns that there is no single tool that fully supports production of accessible websites.

16. What should I take into account when procuring accessible websites and apps?

When drafting a call for tenders to procure ICT services, you will need to define selection criteria, award criteria and technical specifications, including accessibility requirements. One way to define accessibility requirements is to refer to the current European harmonized standard 'Accessibility requirement for procurement of ICT products and services' EN 301 549 V3.1.2 (2021-03) [PDF document]. Annex A of the document explains the relationship between the standard and the mandatory requirements in the Web Accessibility Directive.

European standard EN 301 549 was prepared under a European Commission standardisation request to provide a voluntary means of conforming to the essential requirements of the EU Web Accessibility Directive. Compliance with the normative clauses of the standard as outlined in its Annex A confers a presumption of conformity with the requirements of the EU Web Accessibility Directive.

You can use the selection criteria to set out your expectations from potential suppliers in terms of capacity to deliver digital accessibility.

You can use the award criteria to encourage suppliers to deliver a more accessible website and/or mobile application by providing additional accessibility features above and beyond what is required in the EU Web Accessibility Directive, such as those set out in chapter 9.5 of EN 301 549 [PDF document].

When reviewing tenders, you need to evaluate a supplier's ability to deliver accessibility, review accessibility in the technical specifications and award criteria and ensure deliverables meet the specified accessibility requirements.

17. Where can I find a list of web accessibility evaluation tools?

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has a list of web accessibility evaluation tools as well as advice on how to select the right evaluation tool for your needs. This is currently being redesigned through the WAI-CooP Project.

18. How to prioritize accessibility issues on your website?

When you are trying to improve the accessibility of an existing website, you will need to prioritise what you need to fix. In order to do this, think about key tasks (e.g. search, registration) and key content (e.g. home page, frequently accessed content) and issues that have already been reported to you. See more tips on how to prioritise accessibility issues on the W3C WAI website.

19. How to consider accessibility throughout your project plan?

It is important to consider accessibility throughout your project development. Key steps include:

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has some tips on planning and managing accessibility in a project.

20. How do I write an accessibility statement?

The European Commission published an implementing decision setting out a model accessibility statement for the Web Accessibility Directive.

The declarations made in this statement should be accurate and based on one of the following:

  1. an actual evaluation of the website's or mobile application's compliance with the requirements of the Directive, such as a self-assessment done by the public sector body or an assessment carried out by a third party, for example a certification
  2. any other measures, as deemed appropriate by the Member States, which provide equal assurance that the declarations made in the statement are accurate.

The statement should indicate the method used.

The model accessibility statement is described in the annex of the implementing decision. It includes mandatory content requirements and optional content.

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has more information about accessibility statements and why they are helpful, as well as an accessibility statement generator.

21. How do I write an accessibility assessment report?

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) provides resources on conformance evaluation. This includes the WCAG-EM Report Tool to help you create evaluation reports, which follows the five steps defined by the W3C Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology (WCAG-EM). W3C WAI also has a template for accessibility evaluation reports.

22. How to monitor accessibility on websites and apps?

The monitoring methodology was set out by the European Commission in an implementing decision.

The conformity of websites and mobile applications with the accessibility requirements set out in article 4 of the Directive are monitored using the following methodology:

  1. an in-depth monitoring method to verify compliance, conducted in accordance with the requirements laid down in point 1.2 of annex 1 of the implementing decision
  2. a simplified monitoring method to detect non-compliance, conducted in accordance with the requirements laid down in point 1.3 of annex 1 of the implementing decision

There are designated monitoring bodies for the Web Accessibility Directive in all Member States. They are also responsible for reporting on the implementation of the Directive by submitting a report to the Commission every three years, setting out the outcome of monitoring as well as enforcement activities in their country.

The European Commission has a list of national monitoring bodies.

The first set of monitoring reports were published in December 2021.

23. How can persons with disabilities get involved in the implementation of the Web Accessibility Directive?

Persons with disabilities can get involved in the implementation of the Directive at national level. The European Disability Forum developed a Web Accessibility Directive toolkit [PDF document] with practical advice for organisations who want to influence how the Directive is implemented in their country.

24. Is there guidance on involving users with disabilities in design and development?

Involving users early on in project development is really important to understand real-world accessibility issues, such as how people with disabilities and older people use the web with adaptive strategies and assistive technologies.

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) developed resources showing how to involve users with disabilities in design and development, including advice on involving users in web projects and resources to help evaluate web accessibility.

25. How can we optimise websites and apps for older people with and without disabilities?

Designing products that are easier for older people to use is similar to designing for people with disabilities.

Guidance on how to make websites and applications accessible for older users is covered in existing international accessibility standards, including Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1.

Age-related impairments such as declining vision, hearing loss, reduced physical and/or cognitive ability can affect how older people use the web. These issues overlap with the accessibility needs of people with disabilities. Therefore, websites and applications that are accessible to people with disabilities are more accessible to older users as well.

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has more information on their website about the overlaps between accessible design and design for older people.

26. How can we optimise websites and apps for people with cognitive disabilities?

Cognitive disabilities have an impact on how people process information. For example, they can affect people’s perception, comprehension, memory, language, attention and problem solving.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 include existing requirements that address cognitive accessibility. The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) also has additional guidance on making content usable for people with cognitive and learning disabilities.

Contact our helpdesk if you have further questions or comments on this FAQ.