European Union Directive 2016/2102/EU, creating a set of standards for EU public sector bodies, was approved on October 26, 2016. But what exactly is covered under the Directive? Let’s talk about what is covered as well as some notable exclusions from the Directive.
What is Covered?
The Directive applies to websites and mobile applications under the control of public sector bodies. Public sector bodies are defined in the Directive as bodies governed by public law, including State, regional, and local authorities. Public sector bodies also include associations formed by those authorities, if the associations are formed for fulfilling general interest needs.
Websites are covered by the Directive “independently of the device used for access.” This means that websites that are focused on or developed for mobile devices are required to be made accessible.
The “content” of websites and apps includes text as well as non-textual information, downloadable documents, and forms. Content also includes two-way interaction such as the processing and completion of digital forms and other processes such as authentication, identification, and payment.
If the accessibility requirements of this Directive are not applicable, in accordance with Directive 2000/78/EC, the UN Convention, and other relevant legislation, the requirements of “reasonable accommodation” still apply and should be provided where needed, especially in the workplace and education.
What is Not Covered?
Due to limitations of technology or the need for sector-specific legislation, not everything that could be potentially put on a public sector body’s website needs to be made accessible. This is not a comprehensive list of everything that is excluded from the Directive, but will give you an idea of some of the major exclusions.
Archived content includes information that is not updated or edited and is not needed for active administrative processes. However, archives that are updated or edited after September 22, 2019 must be made accessible.
Third-Party and User-Generated Content
Third-party content is content “neither funded nor developed by, nor under the control of, the public sector body.” Examples cited in the Directive include email programs, blogs, user-contributed content (e.g., comment sections), news aggregators, and advertisements.
Office File Formats
Office file formats published before September 22, 2018 are excluded from the Directive, unless such content is needed for active administrative processes. This exclusion covers Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files that are embedded in websites, as well as open source equivalents, such as Google Docs.
Examples of time-based media include video files with an audio track such as a short film or a recording of a speech. It could also include an audio clip of a press conference or an animated instructional graphic. Live streaming time-based media is excluded from the Directive, as well as pre-recorded time-based media published before September 22, 2020.
Any live time-based media that is either kept online or republished after the live broadcast should be treated as pre-recorded time-based media.
Online maps and mapping services are excluded. The Directive makes a distinction between maps which are intended for navigational use, which must be accessible (or have an accessible alternative), and maps that are just meant for geographical depiction, which are excluded.
Public Broadcaster Sites and Applications
Public service broadcasters include television, radio, and media outlets which are generally funded by the government to fulfill a public service. Websites and apps of public service broadcasters are excluded from the Directive. Although the Directive recognizes the importance of accessible audiovisual services, the Directive also notes that the needs of persons with disabilities would be better served by sector-specific legislation or legislation that also applies to private entities.
Want to Learn More?
This free on-demand webinar from SSB covers the most salient points of the EU Directive, including the economic and social drivers that led to its creation, what is covered, notable exclusions, how it may affect the private sector, and the responsibilities of public sector bodies and their Member States. Read more and access the webinar resources here: The EU Directive on Digital Accessibility.
Content provided by Level Access is intended for general information and education. The materials and facts presented do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon in the face of pending litigation. If you have specific legal questions, please contact a lawyer.