Brussels, 15 September 2005
Coordinated action by EU Member States is needed to make information and communication technologies (ICTs) more accessible to all, and particularly to people with disabilities and some older persons, said the European Commission today. In a Communication on “Electronic Accessibility” (eAccessibility), adopted today, the Commission calls upon Member States to do more to promote EU e-Accessibility initiatives in a concerted approach and to encourage uptake by industry. Progress will be reviewed two years from now, when additional measures may be proposed, including new legislation if necessary.
“The demographic change in Europe is a tremendous social challenge that Information and Communication Technologies can help to tackle”, said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “New electronic devices, services and technologies can be used and further developed to enhance the older generation’s quality of life, support independent living and help them contribute their experience and talents to our economy and society. In addition, I see a whole new market developing for products and services which are easier accessible for all.”
The Commission is determined to improve eAccessibility which is a prerequisite for everyone’s ability to participate fully in a knowledge-based society. This holds true in particular for older persons and also for people with disabilities. Rather than proposing new legislation immediately, the Commission has decided first to fully explore the possibilities available with stakeholders, including users, industry and standardisation bodies. While continuing to support ongoing measures such as standardisation, Design for All (DFA), Web accessibility and Research & Technology Development, the Commission proposes the use of three policy levers available to Member States:
To make use of ICT to enhance quality of life and “electronic accessibility” chiefly through market-oriented policies is one of the main objectives of the i2010 initiative which seeks to establish a European Information Society for growth and employment (see IP/05/643). The Commission sees improved “eAccessibility” as having value to a wider audience thus stimulating industry innovative solutions in the interest of all technology users and citizens.
The Communication adopted today incorporates the main findings of a consultation held in 2005 (see IP/05/371) which showed that there is a lack of consistency amongst accessible ICT products and services in Europe, and that therefore eAccessibility should remain a priority of the EU’s ICT policies.
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