eAccessbility is commonly understood as a means to ensure that Information and Communication Technology products and services meet the requirements of people with disabilities. Accessible ICTs will improve the quality of life of people with disabilities significantly. At the same time, the lack of equal opportunities to access ICT can lead to exclusion. In the recent Communication on eAccessibility, the European Commission (CEC) presents approaches to ensure the availability of accessible ICT-based devices and services throughout the European Union. Three key approaches for EU-level policy intervention are highlighted:
- the application of accessibility requirements in public procurement (utilising freedoms given to Member States in transposing the Public -Procurement Directive),
- the introduction of a product and service certification scheme and making better use of existing legislation e.g. in telecommunications and employment.
The approach outlined in the Communication is to be reviewed within two years, and new measures and – if deemed necessary – new legislation then to be proposed. MeAC is expected to provide both qualitative and quantitative evidence to support this policy decision making.
The study will
- identify, throughout the EU and elsewhere, legislative and other policy measures and actions by industry and other actor groupings that have or potentially can have a significant positive impact on eAccessibility and that support the Community eAccessibility strategy;
- assess to what extent ICT products and services available in Europe take into account eAccessibility requirements and Design for All principles, to what extent the opportunities offered by assistive technologies are being capitalised on and to assess the impact on costs of accessible and assistive ICT products and services;
- measure a change over time by assessing the eAccessibility situation in Europe at two points in time and in this way to measure progress, quantifying the impact of the three approaches specified in the Communication;
- identify cases of policy good practice by assessing the implementation of successful measures and drawing up recommendations for EU policy development in the eAccessibility domain.
In methodological regard, the study will in addition rely upon a policy survey, comprehensive literature anaylsis and on field studies in the EU Member States, USA, Canada and Australia.