The European Accessibility Act will introduce new requirements in respect of accessibility for products and services which will apply from 28 June 2025. The lengthy lead time is indicative of the relatively significant changes the Act will bring in. We consider the main requirements of the EAA for products and services and outline considerations for business who will be impacted by the Act.
Directive (EU) 2019/882 (the European Accessibility Act (EAA)) was adopted in April 2019 and will introduce harmonised rules on accessibility for private sector products and services in the EU for the first time. The EAA has a lengthy lead in time, becoming effective from 28 June 2025. We outline some of the main features of the EAA and considerations which companies should bear in mind to future proof their products and services.
Prior to the EAA, there were no harmonised requirements across the EU for accessibility of private sector products and services. This is in contrast to the public sector, where Directive (EU) 2016/2102 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies requires that websites and applications of public sector bodies be accessible for people with disabilities.
Overview of accessibility requirements
The EAA includes some broad requirements for products to fulfil design requirements to maximise their use for those with disabilities. There are detailed rules related to information and instructions, user interface and functionality design, support services and packaging. In summary, products must be designed and produced in such a way as to “maximise their foreseeable use by persons with disabilities”. Products must be accompanied, where possible, in or on the product by accessible information on their functioning and accessibility features.
The EAA requires that products must:
- be designed and produced to maximise their use by people with disabilities, and
- comply with detailed rules on information and instructions, user interface and functionality design, support services and packaging.
The EAA requires that services must:
- provide information about the service, its accessibility features, and facilities
- make websites and mobile devices easily accessible
- support systems, such as help desks, call centres and training to provide information on accessibility, and
- apply practices, policies, and procedures to address the needs of people with disabilities.
The EAA also imposes further detailed requirements on manufacturers, service providers and importers.
To date, technical standards have not been adopted under the EAA. This is in contrast to the public sector accessibility requirements which have adopted an equivalent EU standard to the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. In December 2021, the Commission formally notified the European standardisation organisations and stakeholder organisations in relation to the development of EAA standards and published the final draft standardisation request for harmonised standards in support of the EAA. This notification requests a revision of the above EU standard to align with the WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
What products and services are covered?
The EAA covers a range of products and services which have been identified as important for those with disabilities. These will be covered if they are brought onto the market after 28 June 2025 but products and services on the market before this date are excluded. Excluded products and services must be compliant by 28 June 2030, with the exception of self-service terminals which may continue to be used until the end of their economically useful life, up to a maximum of 20 years.
The products covered include:
- Payment terminals
- ATMs, ticketing machines and check-in machines
- Interactive self-service terminals providing information
- Computers, other terminal equipment and operating systems, and
The services covered include:
- Electronic communications services
- Services providing access to audiovisual media services
- Transport services
- Consumer banking services
- E-books, and
- E-commerce services.
As the list of products and services covered by the EAA shows, its impacts will be wide ranging. Ireland is obliged to adopt its implementing measures by 28 June 2022 with those to become effective by 28 June 2025. Once the Irish requirements are published, it will be advisable for all companies who provide products and services to consider the effect that the EAA will have to future proof their products and services.
For more information, contact a member of our Technology, Sourcing and Innovation team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.