European Disability Forum: Digital Single Market strategy released but accessibility missing
European Disability Forum (EDF) welcomes the Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy and the list of actions, but regrets that accessibility to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is not incorporated. Every action of the DSM needs to fully include accessibility so that legislation and initiatives that are going to be delivered in the coming years benefit all Europeans. Fundamental rights in the EU should also be guaranteed in Digital Europe.
On 6 May the European Commission released the awaited Digital Single Market Strategy, one of its key priorities for the current mandate. The strategy sets out a list of actions to achieve a common digital market in which companies and consumers can interact under the same regulations, instead of having many different ones. In the document, the Commission clearly states its will to promote “an inclusive e-society” and fight against discrimination of consumers based on their location, residence or nationality. Unfortunately, discrimination based on the accessibility of technologies is not particularly mentioned.
Tackling accessibility is necessary
Referring to accessibility in the DSM strategy would have helped the Commission to ensure that all the upcoming undertakings towards a Digital Single Market are in compliance with the obligations to provide accessibility laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Enhancing accessibility is not essential only for persons with disabilities, it is beneficial for all users.
We want an inclusive Digital Single Market!
Despite this first missed opportunity for the Commission, EDF will advocate for a future Digital Single Market that is inclusive for all citizens. Among the actions of the DSM strategy, there are key priorities for the disability movement: the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, the e-Commerce Directive, the Regulation on Consumer Protection Cooperation, the Universal Services Directive or the e-Government Action Plan. It is essential that each of these actions fully addresses inclusion and accessibility.
80 million Europeans with disabilities deserve to have access to technologies and through them to accessible content, such as websites, movies, e-books, etc. Persons using relay-services to communicate should be able to use them across Europe without extra charges.
Find more reasons why accessibility should be taken into consideration in the recommendations of EDF and AGE Platform Europe, the representative organisation of older people, published in view of the publication of the DSM Strategy.