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Category: Design for all

Actual tests of websites on e-accessibility in all EU member states plus Norway, USA, Canada and Australia took place, and were published.

The report is based on the international guidelines WCAG 2.0. This means that the study mainly concerns the technology and doesn’t cover cognitive aspects, content or on how interfaces work on mobile devices nor the accessibility in documents. The report thus can’t be read as an absolute measure of web-accessibility, but more like a temperature check based on cluster sampling.

The overall result of the survey is a disappointment. Relatively easy things fail in many places, for example marking up the headings properly. More recent requirements, which came with WCAG 2.0 in 2008, are even less implemented.

There are differences between the countries, but, there is no country which can be described as good. We were hoping that the EU member states would learn from each other and be inspired from good examples, but that doesn´t seem to be the case.

One conclusion is that the most successful countries are those who have managed to combine several things:
– Legislation or policy which is not too technically detailed but more focused on individual rights;
– A well developed industry with a high level of accessibility competence, also among end user organizations.

This report presents the results and conclusions from a study on assessing and promoting e-accessibility. The main aims of the study were to take stock of the extent of e-accessibility across the EU27 countries and some third countries, as well as the policy efforts that have emerged in this area. The focus was on e-accessibility in three key domains – web, telecoms and TV.

The core objective was to benchmark the current situation in relation to e-accessibility, using an appropriate set of indicators. In addition to providing evidence that can help to inform about EU policy in this field, the results may be useful for other relevant stakeholders (at pan-European and Member State levels) in their efforts to promote progress in e-accessibility across Europe. The conceptual approach and results of the study can also contribute to the ongoing efforts to develop effective monitoring systems in the e-accessibility field in Europe.

Some common conclusions were made in relation to the accessibility situation for each of the three domains (web, telecoms, TV). For each area of accessibility:

  • Some progress in recent years can be detected, but there remains much room for improvement across the European Union as a whole
  • There is considerable variation across Member States in terms of the extent of accessibility that has been achieved, as well as in the specific aspects that are being addressed
  • Better results seem generally to be achieved where there are specific obligations imposed in legislation and/or by regulators; in the absence of such obligations, there seems to be a lot less likelihood that the relevant market players will have implemented accessibility measures
  • The variations across Member States suggest that, in each of the three fields, initiatives to ensure that key aspects of accessibility are consistently addressed (to a good standard of quality) might be warranted.

In the telecoms and television fields, there are existing EU Directives that address accessibility issues and these seem to have provided a stimulus for accessibility efforts in a number of the Member States. However, given the continued existence of wide variations across countries in the approaches adopted and in the levels of accessibility that are being achieved, benchlearning and other initiatives may be needed in order to support the Member States and their regulatory bodies in their efforts to ensure that the objectives of the Directives are achieved.

In the web field, the continuing variation across Member States in terms of progress towards public website accessibility suggests that EU‐level initiative in this field (possibly addressing obligations and monitoring) is warranted. Given that there are variations across Member States in terms of the likely web accessibility experiences of different user groups, a common EU‐wide approach to ensure that key aspects of web accessibility are consistently addressed in all countries in a harmonized way is needed.

Download the study on assessing and promoting e-accessibility.

The Pew Research Center (USA) has released a new report on who’s not online and why. Many non-users cite a constellation of factors that include usability, accessibility, and digital skills. The number of people in this category, 32% of all non-users, is almost twice what it was 3 years ago. Also interesting is that only 17% of non-users think they could get started on their own, while 63% think they would need some help getting started.
The relevance issue — why should I bother? — takes the #1 position, but this is somewhat undercut by the fact that 44% of non-users have asked someone else to look something up or complete a task on the Internet.
Source: Raising the Floor Newsletter – October 2013

About Raising the Floor (RtF): Raising the Floor (RtF) is an international coalition of individuals and organizations working to ensure that the Internet, and everything available through it, is accessible to people experiencing accessibility barriers due to disability, literacy, or age. Of particular concern are people who are underserved or unserved due to the type or combination of disabilities they have, the part of the world they live in, or the limited resources (financial or program) available to them. A central activity of Raising the Floor – International is coordination of an emerging consortium to build a Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII). For more information see

Thomas More and KU Leuven are organising together a course “Community Service Engineering” that focuses on the societal role of technology.

We would like to introduce it to you:
This programme is a collaboration between Thomas More and KU Leuven. It starts for the first time in October 2013 and will run until April 2014 (30 ECTS credits).

Graduated masters of Engineering Science (Architects), Technology, BioScience and Business Engineers have fathomed the technique. “Classical” engineering curricula focus indeed on mastering a comprehensive scientific basis with topics such as mathematics, chemistry, physics, electricity, mechanics and electronics. But an engineer solves problems for … people and sometimes these (end) users get (too) little attention.

Confrontation and empathising with, adopting an appreciative approach towards, knowing about and working for end users and organisations in the social profit sector are key. Once opportunities for technology have been discovered, the challenge is to develop them, to (help) implement and sustain them in order to change and improve the lives of people and organisations. That is easier said than done and multidisciplinary is an important asset.

The engineer and the social profit sector have seldomly come together. That is what this programme wants to change.

We believe in ‘learning by developing’. Therefore we combine course contents and project work. In the projects, students work on ‘real life’ challenges of target groups of and organisations in the social profit sector. Our programme allows combining work and study.

We are convinced that engineers with the additional certificate of “Community Service Engineering” are particularly widely employable in the labour market because they have been trained at the crossroads of additional disciplines and have interacted with a variety of audiences and organisations.

The training is conducted in English with focus on international perspectives. Support from the European ERASMUS programme has recently been obtained.
– Are you an engineer and are you interested? Please let us know.
– Do you have a project idea that could fit within the programme? Please submit your project proposal to us.
– Do you know engineers who might be interested? Please tell them about this course.
– Are you a Human Resources Manager, concerned with honing the talents of engineers? Please refer them to us.
– Do you know an engineering association? Please ask them to inform their members.

Thank you!

Jan Engelen, KU Leuven

Any further questions? Please ask them via or directly to me:

PS: Your application for the programme can be submitted via

The General Assembly of the United Nations will meet on the 23rd of September in New York to discuss how Disability should be mainstreamed in the post 2015 Development Agenda.

AAATE, RESNA, ARATA, RESJA and AITADIS have taken the initiative to support this process by writing a message to the UN Secretary General and the General Assembly.

In the message they commit to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, support the recommendations on Accessibility and Universal Design and highlight the role of enabling technologies in the empowerment of persons with disabilities in order to contribute to the development of their communities. See below.

You can endorse this initiative and add your name and organisation to the list that will be attached to the message.

Download the letter.
Endorse the letter.
List of all endorsing organisation.

Individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and their families have new expectations for life after high school, including attending college, becoming employed, managing personal assistance services and transportation, and having intimate relations. However, the vocabulary needed to support these socially-valued adult roles is frequently not be available in pre-programmed devices nor in commonly used visual symbol systems. This website contains vocabulary needed to participate in 8 socially-valued adult roles:
– College Life
– Emergency Preparedness
– Employment
– Sexuality, Intimacy, and Sex
– Reporting Crime and Abuse
– Managing Personal Assistance Services
– Managing Health Care, and
– Using Transportation