Digital accessibility in the European Union

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Digital accessibility is growing as a regulatory or legal requirement by many governments across the world. It is an inclusive practice that allows everyone, including people with disabilities or some form of impairment, to perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the online environment. 

Accessibility is increasingly being seen as not only a matter of political, but also of moral importance. In Europe, the Web Accessibility Directive and the European Accessibility Act enact the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and require that appropriate measures are taken to ensure that people with disabilities can access, on an equal basis with others, information and communication technologies and systems.

The EU Web Accessibility Directive, which was enforced in 2016, obliged European member states to ensure that by September 2020 all public sector websites met mandatory minimum accessibility requirements. By June 23 2021, the mobile applications of all public sector bodies must also be accessible to persons with disabilities. This is relevant to public sector organisations in the EU or other organisations hired by the public sector to deliver online products or platforms to public organisations. 

To ensure full and equal participation in society, the European Accessibility Act (EAA), currently being adopted by the European Commission, is applicable to private organisations who operate products and services within the EU and establishes European wide accessibility requirements. The goal of the act is to harmonise and standardise accessibility rules across member countries, so that products and services use a “design for all” approach. This means the design of products, environments, programs and services should be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialised design. 

The act states that apps and websites should be made accessible with the four principles of accessibility in mind – perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. Those principles are what WCAG is built on, which is the universal standard for web accessibility.

The EAA was adopted by the EU in June 2019. By June 2022, EU member states need to translate and adopt the directive into their national laws. By July 2025 the law must be enforced.

It is clear that the public and private sector must plan for, and embrace, digital accessibility. At Moodle, accessibility is a constant focus and with every new release, we dedicate resources to improve accessibility in order to ensure that our software is accessible for everyone who uses it.

Moodle LMS is WCAG 2.1 AA compliant, which means that Moodle users can be reassured that Moodle meets accessibility in four key areas. Whether you are an educator, learner, developer or system administrator, Moodle LMS’s authoring and evaluation tools are endorsed by WCAG as perceivable, operable, understandable and compatible.

Not only that, Moodle LMS and Moodle Workplace include a range of features, tools and integrations to ensure that educators and administrators create courses, resources and activities that enhance their accessibility. This includes a new integration to Moodle 3.11, Brickfield’s Accessibility Starter Toolkit which includes the automated analysis of Moodle courses against a set of common accessibility rules, checking the content inside all of Moodle’s core activities.

Moodle has also created a variety of ways for educators to learn how to create meaningfully designed online learning environments, ranging from courses on Learn Moodle Basics and Moodle Teaching Basics to Moodle Teaching Next Level and the Moodle Educator Certification (MEC) Program

 

Sources

https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/news/global-accessibility-awareness-day-european-commission-working-towards-inclusion-all
https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/policies/wadex
https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1202
https://siteimprove.com/en/blog/the-eu-web-accessibility-directive-frequently-asked-questions/
https://siteimprove.com/en/blog/the-european-accessibility-act-frequently-asked-questions/#:~:text=What’s%20the%20timeline%20for%20the,the%20law%20must%20be%20enforced.

 

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