Web Accessibility Directive Decision Support Environment

It is important to realise that people with disabilities are not just a tiny minority of the population of the European Union. The lowest estimate, based on the extremes of currently defined impairment categories, puts their total number at around 44 Million persons (nearly 13% of the population of the EU ). Designing for people with disabilities is becoming an increasingly important topic for a variety of reasons, especially due to the recent legislation (European Web Accessibility Directive, WAD) published on 2nd of December 2016 and entered into force on 22nd of  December 2016 in Europe promoting the rights of disabled people.

In this direction, accessibility has become necessary due to the rapid growth of online information and interactive services provided by web and mobile applications. Some examples are online banking and shopping, public services, social networks. The lack or absence of accessibility contributes to the exclusion or partial exclusion of many people from society.

Making web and mobile apps more accessible results in a better user experience for all, not just for users with disabilities. Simple changes that make applications more user-friendly can bring huge improvements for everyone. Accessibility also benefits businesses with economic gains, as they can reach a larger customer base when it is supported. Web accessibility is not just about technical standards, web architecture and design. It is an issue of political will and of moral obligation, now enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Article 9 of the Convention, to which the EU is a party, requires that appropriate measures are taken to ensure access for persons with disabilities, on equal basis with others, to inter alia information and communication technologies, including the Internet. By that people with disabilities will have better access to the websites and mobile applications of public services.

Even if people with disabilities want to be independent and carry out their activities independently, unfortunately, most Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) applications and systems are not fully accessible today.