Web Accessibility Directive Decision Support Environment project

Compliance symbol (source: iStock)

The project ended officially in June 2021. WADcher is now available as a validated cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) prototype integrated system that greatly reduces the costs of WAD compliance adherence, including designing and testing, assessing and on-going monitoring and maintenance.

If you are interested in supporting the consortium in bringing the services to the public sector or want to see a demo of our results, please contact us.

Project context

Web technologies and mobile apps have become an essential means to delivering and accessing information and services. With 1 in 4 people in the EU aged 16 or over suffering from a long-term disability and an ageing population, web accessibility has become crucial. Web accessibility means that everyone, including persons with disabilities, will be able to better perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Internet. Web accessibility thus enables the participation of millions of Europeans that may otherwise be at risk of exclusion from the digital society. The EU has, and is, doing much to raise awareness of digital inclusion and accessibility among the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use, to ensure that European Digital Economy and Society legislation is there for everyone, regardless of their ability.

A major initiative to address this is the EU Directive on the “Accessibility of the Websites and Mobile Applications of Public Sector Bodies” that came into force on 26/10/2016, also known as the Web Accessibility Directive (WAD), which establishes accessibility requirements for the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies. The WAD defines accessibility as “principles and techniques to be observed when designing, constructing, maintaining, and updating websites and mobile applications in order to make them more accessible to users, in particular persons with disabilities”. The content of websites and mobile applications includes textual as well as non-textual information, downloadable documents and forms, and two-way interaction such as the processing of digital forms and the completion of authentication, identification, and payment processes.

The main objectives of WADcher were to develop:

  1. a large scale web accessibility assessment infrastructure to interact with external web accessibility assessment tools,
  2. a decision support environment to present the results of these tools to the accessibility expert and/or developer to complete the assessment work or to correct the accessibility issues, and
  3. an observatory to allow web commissioners to manage the web accessibility and the monitoring of the aggregated results and to create customized reports and web accessibility statements.