Bridging the gap: making websites accessible for everyone 


Finding information online seems easy thanks to the abundance of texts, photos, videos out there. However, for the 80 million Europeans who are visually impaired or live with other disabilities it can prove more challenging. They need support to turn text into speech, photos into words and head gestures into mouse pointer movements. On Wednesday MEPs vote on new rules to help make websites and apps by the public sector accessible for everyone.

MEPs will be voting on a new directive requiring EU countries to ensure that public sector bodies make their websites and mobile application more accessible. The new rules have already been agreed by negotiators from the Parliament and the Council, but they still need to be approved by a majority of MEPs before they can enter into force. Czech ALDE member Dita Charanzová led the negotiations on behalf of the Parliament.

Why the new rules are needed

A range of tools already exist to help people with disabilities such as screen magnifiers as well as devices enabling people to control a computer without a mouse. However, even when using these tools, people with disabilities can find it difficult to browse as some websites do not include features such as alternative text for images or captions describing sound in a video. This is all the more important for official websites offering everyone living in a given country vital access to various public services.