European Accessibility Act Compliance Requirements What's Next for GDPR

European Accessibility Act Compliance Requirements: What’s Next for GDPR

Published: May 30, 2024

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    Four years ago, the introduction of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation created the utmost chaos in businesses. American companies hastened to meet the stringent privacy and security requirements to avoid substantial fines and potential exclusion from the EU market.

    We are approaching another significant regulatory shift in the European Accessibility Act (EAA), which looks to create another upheaval. This landmark legislation focuses on enhancing digital accessibility and aims to benefit over 87 million people with disabilities across the EU.

    Set to be enforced within the European Union member states on June 25, 2025, the EAA mandates that all websites and Information and Communication Technology (ICT), including e-commerce sites, must be accessible to EU users. Read on to learn more about it.

    At ADA Site Compliance, our skilled accessibility experts stay informed about the latest regulatory changes, including the upcoming EAA. Our accessibility consultant can thus assist businesses like yours in ensuring their digital content is accessible and minimizing legal risks.

    The European Accessibility Act

    The European Accessibility Act (EAA), outlined in Directive 2019/882, mandates that all EU member states integrate its requirements with their national law. By June 2025, compliance will be compulsory for national authorities across the European Union.

    This directive impacts a diverse range of digital products and services, including:

    • News websites with subscription options
    • E-commerce platforms for buying and selling goods and services
    • Advertising networks
    • Professional services such as those offered by doctors, lawyers, and real estate agents
    • Entertainment and media platforms
    • Telecommunications service providers
    • Mobile apps

    Given the broad scope of this directive, ensuring accessibility across all digital channels is essential to ensure compliance.

    Web Accessibility and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

    Now, about the importance of accessible websites. They are sites optimized to be usable by a diverse audience across various devices.

    But how can we measure the accessibility of a website?

    An accessible website adheres to the WCAG guidelines, which define specific success criteria that websites must meet to ensure accessibility.

    WCAG compliance comes in three levels:

    • Level A includes the most basic accessibility features
    • Level AA is the international standard
    • Level AAA is typically reserved for specialized applications and not commonly required for general websites.

    For compliance, a website must meet 50 success criteria, including all those from Level A. Making websites accessible is essential for inclusion, and adhering to WCAG standards is crucial in achieving this goal.

    Will an Accessibility Overlay Widget Make My Website EAA Compliant?

    Providers of overlay widgets claim that their technology can achieve WCAG compliance for websites. However, the EU Commission has clarified that these widgets do not meet the necessary standards.

    The Commission has stated that it is unrealistic to assume that a website can be fully compliant without manual intervention. No automated tool covers all the WCAG 2.1 level A and AA criteria.

    Furthermore, the EU Commission has observed that some tools can interfere with the assistive technologies users with disabilities use to access website information. This implies that some overlay tools interfere with the assistive technologies users with disabilities depend on for website accessibility. Having these overlay tools may make a website less accessible for some users.

    What Are the Penalties for Not Complying with EAA?

    Unfortunately, the specifics are still uncertain. Member States will be responsible for ensuring compliance, handling complaints, implementing corrective measures, and providing a mechanism for individuals to file complaints.

    Member States are expected to decide on the legal actions to take and the penalties to impose. These penalties and charges are expected to be significant and mirror the GDPR fine framework.

    All businesses need to know that not only large corporations face legal risks and fines. Even small corporations face the same risks and penalties for non-compliance, which is why compliance is so essential.

    Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Europe’s EAA

    The EAA’s new regulations reflect a global shift towards more rigorous digital accessibility standards. The EU’s new rules are some of the most detailed and comprehensive worldwide. So, companies outside the EU that comply with these standards are well-prepared for similar regulations in other regions.

    Digital Accessibility Offers Benefits To Businesses

    The significant legal risks of non-compliance are undisputable. With the EAA’s increased scrutiny and the need to eliminate ineffective accessibility overlay widgets, now is the perfect time to invest in accessibility.

    However, focusing solely on legal compliance and brand image overlooks a more critical point, which is that accessibility inherently benefits business operations. Here is how:

    • 1. Commitment to Inclusivity and Diversity

      Embracing accessibility demonstrates your organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This dedication resonates with current and potential customers and employees, enhancing your organization’s appeal and reputation.

    • 2. Usability

      An accessible website improves the overall user experience by simplifying navigation and interaction. Better usability directly translates to higher engagement and more conversions, positively impacting your bottom line.

    • 3. Market Growth

      Making your services accessible opens up new market segments, including the users with disabilities and the Baby Boomers, who collectively hold approximately $548 billion in purchasing power. By reaching these demographics, you unlock vast and profitable market opportunities.

    • 4. SEO

      Websites that comply with ADA guidelines experience significant SEO benefits. Enhanced heading structures, the proper use of alt text, and clear markup improve your site visibility and reach a broader audience. Organic search traffic, renowned for its high quality, is thus a direct result of compliance.

    • 5. AIO

      The rise of AI-driven platforms introduces the need for Artificial Intelligence Optimization (AIO) alongside SEO. Ensuring WCAG compliance allows these new technologies to effectively interact with your content, enhancing your digital marketing efforts.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    • 1. What is the European Accessibility Regulation 2025?

      Under the European Accessibility Act (EAA), or the European Accessibility Regulation 2025, all digital products and services, including websites and mobile applications, must be accessible to individuals with disabilities by June 25, 2025. This regulation aims to provide an inclusive digital future across EU member states.

    • 2. What is the European Accessibility Act 2024?

      The European Accessibility Act 2024 (EAA) requires that by June 25, 2025, all digital products and services, including websites and mobile applications, must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. This regulation aims to promote digital inclusivity across EU member states. Compliance is crucial to avoid legal penalties and to broaden market opportunities.

    • 3. What is the status of the European Accessibility Act?

      Full compliance with the European Accessibility Act (EAA) is required by June 25, 2025. This act mandates that all digital products and services within the EU be accessible to individuals with disabilities. This regulation will be obligatory for all member states to foster a global standard for digital inclusivity.

    • 4. What is the difference between EAA and ADA?

      The European Accessibility Act (EAA) lays down accessibility requirements wherein all digital products and services are accessible across EU member states. In contrast, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all public areas.

      While both aim to enhance accessibility, the EAA specifically targets digital inclusivity, whereas the ADA covers a broader range of areas, including public accommodations, services, and employment.

    • 5. Are There Any Exceptions for EAA Compliance?

      The EAA provides exemptions for microbusinesses, defined as those with fewer than ten employees and annual revenues under two million euros. Despite these exemptions, all businesses are strongly encouraged to pursue accessibility, ensuring their services are usable by everyone and inclusive of all individuals.


    So, in short, the EAA makes it mandatory for businesses to invest in accessibility. It fosters inclusivity, boosts your website search engine performance, enhances inclusivity, usability, and market expansion, and leverages AI capabilities, driving your business forward.

    If these advantages are not convincing enough, consider the substantial risks involved. The European Accessibility Act (EAA), combined with existing US federal laws and expanding state regulations in California and New York, exposes businesses of all sizes and locations to significant legal risks.

    Ensuring web compliance for legal risks and benefits can be daunting for business owners with numerous responsibilities. This is where ADA Site Compliance steps in.

    Our team of accessibility experts stays updated on the latest regulatory changes, including the upcoming EAA. By helping organizations meet the EAA requirements and compliance for all digital content, we protect businesses from potential legal issues and ensure a compliant and inclusive online presence.

    Contact ADA Site Compliance today for all your website accessibility needs.

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