Disclaimer: This page is currently being reviewed in view of WCAG 2.1 and other initiatives in the area of accessibility (e.g. the use of easy-to-read format). An update is planned for autumn 2019.

Rules

All new Europa websites and mobile applications must comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, conformance level AA. This has been the case since 2010.

Directive (EU) 2016/2102 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies (the ‘Web Accessibility Directive’) entered into force in 2016.

Although the Directive does not apply to EU institutions, recital 35 states that they are: ‘encouraged to comply’ with it.

The Directive requires that public sector organisations apply European standard EN 301 549 V2.1.2 (2018‑08) to their websites and online tools. The standard is based on the latest version of the guidelines, WCAG 2.1, conformance level AA.

Full compliance with the Directive requires:

There are 3 compliance phases:

New websites (published after September 23, 2018) – from September 23, 2019

Older websites (published before September 23, 2018) – from September 23, 2020

Mobile applications – from 23 June, 2021

It is recommended that all Europa websites, mobile applications and online tools comply with these deadlines as far as possible.

WCAG 2.1 supersedes WCAG 2.0 and provides additional success criteria to address:

The WCAG guidelines were produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) under the web accessibility initiative (WAI).

See the links in the References section below to find out how to apply them.

For more information on how to make web content accessible to the widest possible audience, see the Accessibility checklist.

International standards

The WCAG guidelines were produced by the World Wide Web Consortium within the scope of the web accessibility initiative (WAI).

Purpose

The web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) explain how to make web content accessible to people with disabilities. The guidelines are intended for all web content providers and developers (including page authors, webmasters and site designers).

Following the guidelines will make web content more accessible not only to people with disabilities, but to all users, regardless of the device or software they are using (e.g. desktop browser, smartphone, in-vehicle computer, voice browser) or the constraints of their environment (e.g. noisy surroundings, bright or dimly-lit rooms).

By implementing the WCAG, you can help users to find information on the web more easily. The guidelines also help content producers to use images, video, audio and other content in a way that makes it more accessible to the widest possible audience.

Background

The aim of web accessibility is to ensure all users to have equal access to information and functionalities on the web. More specifically, web accessibility means that people with all abilities and disabilities should be able to perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the web, these are the four principles of web accessibility. It also means that the content of the websites should be compatible with current and future browsers, devices, software and assistive technologies.

According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has been signed by the European Union, persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Users can experience problems when using the web because of different kinds of disabilities, functional limitations, environmental factors or technology-related issues, such as:

References

Contact and support

If you require further assistance, please contact:

Comm Europa Management

European Commission
DG Communication 
Unit B.3 
Europa Web Communication