European Union websites must be accessible to all, including the 37 million European citizens with a disability. This was an e-Europe Action Plan 2002 goal, which called for public websites to adopt the international Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Guidelines by the end of December 2001. Three European projects played a vital role in supporting this agenda.
All Member States have adopted these Guidelines, However, policies implementation on Web accessibility vary from country to country. The WAI guidelines have not yet been universally implemented. Yet awareness of these guidelines and the need to follow them has grown significantly in Europe over the last few years.
The WAI comes under the umbrella of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which has over 350 member organisations. The initiative works to improve Web accessibility in areas such as technology, guidelines, tools and education. So what is Web accessibility? “It means designing a site which anyone can navigate and use, young or old. People with disabilities – whether physical, mental or technological – should also be able to benefit from all of a site’s content and services,” says Shadi Abou-Zahra, W3C’s European Web-accessibility specialist.
Tara Morris | alfa
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