EN 301 549 Compliance
Similar to Section 508 in the U.S., EN 301 549 requires all public-sector organizations in Europe to make their digital technology accessible. This includes websites, software, electronic devices and mobile apps. Neglect digital accessibility compliance standards, and you’re in violation of the EN 301 549.
Also similar to Section 508, this regulation impacts both public and private-sector procurement processes. If you’re selling into Europe’s public sector, your product must be accessible. But the aim of EN 301 549 is to be used in the private sector as well. Non-accessible digital products will most certainly impact procurement opportunities across the board and throughout the region.
EN 301 549 has been adopted in all 28 European Union member states, three EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland), and two EU candidate countries (Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).
WCAG: the standard for compliance with EN 301 549
There have been three versions of EN 301 549. The second, released in 2018, formally adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA standards as its baseline for compliance. Those who do not comply may face fines or other legal penalties.
What is WCAG?
WCAG was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) with input from individuals and organizations from around the world. It provides a set of technical standards that make online content accessible for users of all abilities. And as the shared global standard, WCAG is used as the benchmark by which regulations, like EN 301 549, validate a website or digital product’s state of accessibility.
WCAG and POUR
WCAG guidelines are based on four principles (often referred to as POUR):
- Perceivable = It’s important to present information that can be perceived in different ways, where a user can adjust color contrast or font size, or view captions for videos.
- Operable = If someone can’t use a mouse, for example, they can use a keyboard or voice command.
- Understandable = Information and instructions are clear and navigation methods are easy to understand and use.
- Robust = Content must be robust enough so that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of users and types of assistive technologies.
WCAG conformance levels
There are three levels of WCAG conformance: A, AA, and AAA. Level A refers to the lowest level of conformance (minimum) and Level AAA is the highest (maximum). Compliance with EN 301 549 requires conformance with WCAG 2.1 AA standards.
Want to know whether your website meets WCAG standards?
Expand your market, enhance your profitability with accessibility
Organizations that comply with EN 301 549 open their products and services to new markets and expand their overall consumer base. It is estimated there are one billion individuals worldwide living with a disability. Together, with friends and family, this consumer group represents trillions of dollars in disposable income.
Companies that prioritize digital accessibility also publicly position their brand as one that values inclusion and meeting the needs of every individual. This prioritization impacts consumer loyalty as more companies are bolstering their DEI initiatives.
How to know if your ICT is EN 301 549 compliant
eSSENTIAL Accessibility not only helps organizations evaluate their current state of compliance, we partner with you to create an accessibility roadmap. Our Accessibility-as-a-Service approach is designed specifically to follow best practices for EN 301 549 compliance, conforming with WCAG 2.1 AA standards. We combine the efficiencies of automation and technology, with manual expertise, training and legal support to help make your website, software, and mobile apps accessible and keep them that way.
Frequently asked questions
What is EN 301 549?
EN 301 549 is a European web accessibility law that is similar to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in the United States. Similar to Section 508, it requires that websites, software, electronic devices and mobile apps be accessible, and applies to both the public and private sector in Europe or those selling to Europe’s public sector.
What is EN 301 549 compliance?
In 2018, EN 301 549 adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA as the standard for accessibility. Therefore, compliance with EN 301 549 means conformance with WCAG 2.1 AA.