Answer given by Ms Wallström on behalf of the Commission
With increasing public access to the Internet, the Commission and Member States are focusing their efforts in particular on improving web conditions for colour-blind people.
The Commission, together with the Member States, are committed to make the Web accessible to all, including persons with disabilities, and in particular the public sites as highlighted in the specific EC Communication and in further documents, and again confirmed in the 2006 Ministerial Declaration of Riga. Implementation relies on conformance with the guidelines established by the Web Accessibility Imitative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which aims to set de-facto standards for accessibility of the Internet. The existing WAI content guidelines (WCAG1.0) contain several recommendations of importance to colour blind citizens, including that information should not be conveyed by colour alone.
It is part of the internal rules for all websites of the EU institutions to follow the WAI content guidelines. The EU is furthermore promoting better deployment of accessibility and improvement or complement of the WAI material via the research programmes, e.g. in a sixth Framework Programme (FP6) cluster of Information Society Technology (IST) projects:
- —the ‘BenToWeb’ project (http://bentoweb.org/) is assisting WAI for the new WCAG2.0 guidelines and developing corresponding test tools, in particular regarding definition of colour contrast and colour deficiency algorithms. Identifying problematic colour combinations is however not trivial: if this appears to be achievable for dichromacy issues like deuteranopia (about 2 million European males) or protanopia (also about 2 million European males), for the most common anomalous trichromacy colour deficiency this might be impossible due to a too extensive variability of the spectral sensibility;
- —the ‘EIAO’ project (http://www.eiao.net/) is developing a prototype of automatic European observatory, where such colour tests would be carried out for controlling the accessibility of public sites.
The Commission will also examine whether further steps can be taken to make printed publications easier to read for colour blind citizens
OJ C 45, 16/02/2008