Accessibility isn’t just a requirement for public-sector organizations in the European Union (EU). The European Accessibility Act (EAA) mandates that a range of products and services, including many types of online experiences such as e-commerce experiences, are accessible to people with disabilities. The law, which applies to those doing business within the EU, aims to resolve discrepancies in accessibility requirements between different European countries. Originally encoded into law in 2019, the EAA was adopted by individual EU nations starting in 2022. Providers of products and services covered by the EAA have until June 2025 to become compliant. A complaint process and surveillance monitoring will be established, and organizations that fail to meet these requirements may face penalties, including fines.
The EAA covers commonly used hardware and software products, as well as various services related to communication, commerce, finance, education, and transportation. These include:
Does the EAA apply to your organization? We can help you achieve compliance.
While the EAA focuses on functionally meeting the needs of people with disabilities and does not itself provide specific technical standards for accessibility, the voluntary harmonized EU standard, EN 301 549 will be used as the presumptive standard of conformity. This means that if you want to show that you meet the EAA, you will likely need to show how you conform to EN 301 549. EN 301 549 defines technical requirements and currently includes the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. However, the standard is slated to be updated as part of supporting the implementation of the EAA and is in the process of being updated to include WCAG 2.2. Because WCAG is an established framework for assessing digital accessibility in the EU, conforming to these criteria at an “AA” level (which includes A and AA criteria) is the best way for organizations to start ensuring they comply with the EAA. Additionally, EN 301 549 has other requirements for certain types of web content, software, such as mobile apps, and hardware, that may apply.
To learn more about WCAG 2.2, and to understand how well your digital products meet its criteria, request our WCAG Checklist.
As the leading digital accessibility solution, Level Access equips organizations with the tools and support they need to become, and stay, compliant with directives like the EAA. Through a combination of advanced software and expert-managed services, our end-to-end solution will help your organization conform to WCAG 2.2 AA, meeting requirements of the EAA, reducing the risk of legal penalties, and opening your digital experiences to all users.
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Our risk assessment will help you understand your digital accessibility health score and your current level of EAA compliance.
What is the difference between the EAA and Directive (EU) 2016/2102 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies?
The EU Directive on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies requires that all public-sector organizations in Europe make these online experiences accessible to people with disabilities. Organizations that sell into the public sector also need to conform to accessibility standards. In comparison, the EAA is broader in scope, in that it can apply to both public and private-sector organizations. Additionally, the EAA covers products and services beyond online experiences, such as computing hardware, e-books, media equipment, and self-service kiosks.
Which countries does the EAA apply to?
The EAA applies to all economic providers (public or private) providing products or services, or offering to provide products or services, in the European Union (EU). This means that organizations based outside the EU must also adhere to the EAA’s accessibility guidelines when conducting business within the EU market.
Are any organizations exempt from the EAA?
Yes. The EAA does not apply to organizations with fewer than 10 employees and an annual turnover of less than two million euros. Additionally, products and services may be considered exempt if compliance would create an “undue burden,” meaning it would significantly change the nature of their products or services.
Will an overlay provider help with compliance with the EAA?
The European Disability Forum (EDF) and International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) issued a warning that this technology alone does not guarantee compliance with European accessibility legislation. Read the full statement here.