EC consults on making computers and mobile phones usable for everyone

The European Commission is seeking comment on how best to make computers, mobile phones and websites accessible to the widest number of people, including the disabled and the elderly.

One of its suggestions is to pass new legislation.

“Information and communication technologies can be powerful tools for bringing people together, improving their health and welfare, and making their jobs and social lives richer and more rewarding,” said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.

“But more than 90 million EU citizens either cannot reap these benefits in full, or are effectively cut off from them because of age or disabilities.”

The public consultation focuses on three key areas in which the EU could promote what it calls e-accessibility: public procurement, certification, and the use of legislation.

The consultation document argues that EU member state public authorities should develop common requirements to facilitate the purchasing of accessible goods and services. This would in turn create larger markets for “design-for-all” products, says the Commission.

The consultation document also proposes to assess whether a certification mechanism should provide a quality label for accessible products and services.

Regarding legislative measures, the document notes that several EU member states already have laws on e-accessibility, and that there are indications that harmonising the relevant technical requirements across the EU could help to make these laws a more powerful driver for change.

The consultation runs until 12 February and results will then feed into a Commission paper on e-accessibility to be adopted before June.

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