Understanding the European Accessibility Act: A Definitive Guide

13 February 2024 - Kieran Rooney

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In today's interconnected world, the urgency of accessibility, especially for people with disabilities, is paramount. The European Accessibility Act (EAA), initiated in 2015 and formally adopted in 2019, stands as a pivotal milestone in ensuring inclusivity across Europe's digital and physical realms. With the 2025 compliance deadline looming, grasping the intricacies of the EAA is no longer optional—it's imperative. Our comprehensive guide delves into the significance of the Act, equipping organizations with invaluable insights to not only meet regulatory requirements but also to embrace accessibility as a cornerstone of their ethos.


The European Accessibility Act (EAA) represents a pivotal milestone in the EU's commitment to implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Proposed by the European Commission in December 2015 and adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in April 2019, the EAA is designed to promote inclusivity and accessibility. Aligned with the globally recognised Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the EAA adheres to international best practices in digital accessibility. This alignment underscores the EAA's relevance and its role in driving inclusive practices, not only within Europe but across the global landscape.

Implementation Deadline

The European Accessibility Act (EAA) establishes a crucial compliance deadline, set for 28 June 2025. This deadline applies not only to EU-based organisations but also extends its reach to businesses worldwide, including those operating in the UK, that offer products or services within the EU. The significance of this deadline lies in its capacity to unlock opportunities for businesses to access a broader and more diverse market. Complying with the EAA's accessibility standards acts as a catalyst for innovation, fostering advancements in design and functionality. By embracing these inclusive standards, businesses can embark on a journey of growth and expanded market presence, contributing positively to the cause of accessibility for all.


The primary objective of the European Accessibility Act (EAA) is to enhance accessibility across a wide spectrum of products and services within the EU's internal market, catering to the needs of persons with disabilities. This initiative is comprehensive, extending beyond just digital accessibility to include physical products and services as well. It aims to facilitate equal access and participation in society for individuals with disabilities, thereby promoting inclusivity and reducing discrimination. By addressing both digital interfaces (such as websites and mobile apps) and physical accessibility (like product design and in-person services), the EAA presents a holistic approach to inclusivity.

Key Features

  1. Scope: The EAA applies to a range of products and services, including smartphones, computers, e-books, e-commerce, banking services, transport, and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
  2. Standardisation: The Act standardises accessibility requirements across the EU, establishing a clear and consistent framework for businesses to follow.
  3. Innovation and Flexibility: While mandating compliance, the EAA encourages innovation and allows for flexibility in how the requirements are met, as long as the result is accessible.
  4. Compliance and Enforcement: The Act mandates EU countries to ensure compliance and set out penalties for non-compliance.

Compliance, Monitoring, and Enforcement of the European Accessibility Act (EAA)

To comply with the European Accessibility Act (EAA), businesses must align their products and services with established accessibility standards. What's more, the good news is that compliance with the EAA aligns closely with the already well-established Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This alignment ensures that businesses can leverage their existing efforts in digital accessibility to meet the EAA's requirements. This involves a focused approach to design, functionality, and user interface, ensuring that they are perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for users with disabilities.

Essentially, compliance means incorporating these principles into the very fabric of the products and services offered, thereby ensuring greater accessibility and inclusivity. The compliance process includes:

  1. Compliance Mechanisms: The EAA mandates EU countries to develop national laws and regulations to ensure businesses meet accessibility standards. This involves setting out clear guidelines for businesses to align their offerings with these standards. The European Disability Forum (EDF) have created a peer support group for sharing information and supporting the implementation of the EAA, along with a toolkit and a list of web accessibility rules.
  2. Monitoring: Compliance monitoring is conducted by designated national authorities within each EU member state. These authorities are responsible for overseeing the implementation of the EAA, conducting regular audits, and assessments to ensure that businesses adhere to the required standards.
  3. Enforcement: In cases where businesses do not comply with the European Accessibility Act (EAA), the EAA provides for penalties. These penalties can range from fines to restrictions on market access, depending on the severity of the violation. This enforcement mechanism ensures that all businesses maintain a consistent level of accessibility in their products and services.

Preparing for the EAA: Guidelines for Companies

Companies should understand the EAA's requirements, including compliance standards and monitoring mechanisms. Achieving compliance often involves a multifaceted approach, which may include:

  1. Training and Awareness Programs: Companies can initiate training programs to educate their teams about the EAA's requirements and the importance of accessibility. This helps build awareness and expertise within the organisation.
  2. Design and Development Revisions: Companies should review their product and service designs and make necessary revisions to ensure they align with accessibility standards. This may involve changes to user interfaces, functionality, and content presentation.
  3. Third-party Accessibility Audits: Engaging third-party experts or auditing services can help companies identify accessibility gaps in their products and services. These audits provide valuable insights and recommendations for improvements.
  4. Involving User Feedback: Companies should actively seek feedback from users with disabilities. User testing and feedback collection can reveal usability issues and areas where improvements are needed.
  5. Continuous Monitoring and Updating: Accessibility is an ongoing process. Companies must continuously monitor their products and services to ensure they remain accessible. This includes staying informed about updates to accessibility standards and making necessary adjustments.

While the EAA itself doesn't provide specific programs or support, there are various resources available, including industry associations, and accessibility consultants such as our own team, that can assist companies in their journey towards compliance.

Challenges and Criticisms

While the EAA is a positive step, it has faced criticism. Some argue that it does not go far enough in its scope, while others are concerned about the cost implications for SMEs. Additionally, the success of the Act depends on the effectiveness of its implementation and enforcement across different EU countries.


The European Accessibility Act is a landmark legislation in the EU’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility. By setting common accessibility standards, providing a clear deadline for compliance, and outlining mechanisms for monitoring and enforcement, it not only benefits people with disabilities but also promotes a more inclusive and innovative market. The successful implementation of the EAA will require cooperation between governments, businesses, and communities, ensuring that the EU remains a leader in accessibility and inclusion.

Consider Your Next Steps

As you navigate the complexities of the European Accessibility Act, consider the following steps for your business:

  • Conduct a comprehensive audit of your digital and physical assets to assess compliance with accessibility standards.
  • Invest in employee training programs to cultivate expertise in accessibility principles and practices.
  • Engage with accessibility experts and industry associations to leverage support and resources for compliance.
  • Foster a culture of inclusivity within your organization, championing accessibility as a driver of innovation and social responsibility.

By taking proactive measures to embrace accessibility, your business can not only meet regulatory requirements but also lead the way in creating a more accessible and inclusive society.

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