The European Accessibility Act: How to Prepare

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The European Accessibility Act: How to Prepare

Posted May 21, 2024


Posted May 21, 2024

European accessibility symobl in front of a map of Europe and stylized web browser.
European accessibility symobl in front of a map of Europe and stylized web browser.

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The deadline for compliance with the European Accessibility Act is just over a year away. Learn how your organization can prepare for enforcement and how to make your digital content more accessible.

For more than eight years, the European Web Accessibility Directive has increased digital accessibility within the public sector. The legislation requires that all publicly funded websites within the EU must follow the accessibility standards included in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Until now, the European Web Accessibility Directive has focused on increasing digital accessibility within public sector bodies, with the EU private sector being relatively exempt from digital accessibility laws. The gap between public and private accessibility emphasized the need for more comprehensive accessibility measures that apply to both sectors.

That’s where the European Accessibility Act (EAA) comes in. The act is designed to bridge the accessibility gaps in the private sector and ensure users with disabilities have equal access to critical services and information. 

With the compliance deadline just over a year away, we’ll review how to best prepare for the EAA and what steps your organization can take now to increase accessibility.

What is the EAA?

The EAA was enacted in June 2019 to increase the rights of people with disabilities by providing them with easier access to digital content. The law requires that common everyday digital products and services be accessible for persons with disabilities, including:

  • Smartphones 
  • Mobile applications
  • Televisions
  • ATMs
  • Audio-visual media services
  • Self-service terminals
  • Check-in machines
  • Ticketing machines
  • eBooks
  • eReading devices and software
  • eCommerce experiences or applications
  • Digital rights management software

Similar to the Web Accessibility Directive, the EAA requires all EU countries to follow the accessibility standards included in WCAG 2.1 Level AA. These standards address numerous accessibility issues that prevent users with disabilities from easily accessing content. Additionally, these guidelines provide organizations with standards to follow when creating digital content. 

The EAA applies to any product or service sold or used within Member States, regardless of origin. For example, if your business is based in the US and has EU customers, you must comply with the EAA.

As mentioned above, the EAA was first introduced in 2019 and adopted by all EU Member States in 2022. By July 2025, the EAA will be enforced by government entities, and organizations will face potential legal action if they fail to meet accessibility standards.

6 Steps Organizations Can Take to Prepare for the EAA

With the compliance deadline approaching, it’s time to start making more accessible digital experiences. Being proactive about these changes now not only enables you to avoid legal action but also improves your users' experience. 

However, incorporating the more than 50 WCAG standards into your digital content can feel overwhelming — you may be unsure where to start. Luckily, it is possible (and easier than you think) to achieve accessibility compliance. Below, we’ll delve into six steps you can take now to get closer to conforming to WCAG accessibility standards.

1. Understand Where You Stand

Before completely overhauling your digital content, you must determine if the EAA applies to you. 

If your organization is based in the European Union or if you have European customers, you must comply with the EAA. This means your digital content must meet the accessibility standards included in WCAG 2.1 Level AA. 

If you’re based in the US and have only US-based customers, you do not need to meet EAA standards. However, we recommend incorporating accessibility features into your existing content, as this creates a more accessible, inclusive experience for all users—not just those with disabilities. Use the guidelines included in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a starting point.

2. Complete an Accessibility Audit

Once you understand whether compliance is mandatory, it’s time to examine your existing digital content. An accessibility audit will provide you with an overview of how accessible your existing content is and where improvements are needed. 

We recommend performing an accessibility audit on all your digital content, including web pages, mobile apps, electronic documents, etc. This will help you determine where, if any, accessibility issues exist and what improvements need to be made.

3. Make a Remediation Plan

Based on the results from your accessibility audit, create a remediation plan. We recommend starting with smaller, less intensive fixes that can be identified with an automated accessibility checker like AudioEye. This allows you to plan and allocate resources for larger, more intensive fixes. This approach helps you keep moving forward on accessibility initiatives while strategically planning for future fixes.

4. Regularly Review Accessibility Laws

As you take steps to comply with the requirements of the EAA, be sure to regularly review WCAG standards and additional accessibility laws. Doing so ensures you’re compliant with the latest accessibility standards, which helps you provide a better, more accessible experience for your users.

5. Frequently Conduct Accessibility Audits

Your digital content is constantly changing — whether it’s being updated or you’re publishing something new. Regularly auditing your digital content helps you find accessibility issues that may have been inadvertently created as you’ve changed your content. This enables you to fix problems before they impact your users — or become the center of a legal lawsuit.

6. Engage with Accessibility Experts

Despite the detailed specifications included in WCAG and the myriad of free accessibility tools on the market, creating an EAA-compliant website is not a simple task. You may want to consider engaging with an accessibility partner to help you stay on top of changing accessibility guidelines and to provide support where needed.

For example, in addition to providing many accessibility tools, AudioEye also provides Accessibility Training, Legal Support, Document Remediation, and more. Ongoing support from our accessibility experts helps you stay on top of accessibility legislation and guidelines. It also enables you to find and fix common and complex accessibility issues that can negatively impact your users.

Large accessibility icon with a smaller bar chart and circular graph next to it.

How will the EAA Impact Businesses?

Failing to comply with EAA guidelines can have serious consequences for your business. Non-compliance can lead to:

  • Legal proceedings: This includes lawsuits and demand letters that can be expensive, resource-intensive, and time-consuming.
  • Reputation damage: Inaccessible content can damage your reputation among customers, who may see you as cold, uncaring, and indifferent to social responsibility.
  • Loss of customers: Damaging your reputation will quickly cost you customers. Additionally, with over 135 million adults in the EU living with disabilities, inaccessible digital content is keeping millions from accessing your services or offerings.
  • Fines and prison sentences: At the most drastic level, you or your organization can face expensive fines or prison sentences for lack of digital accessibility. 

On the other hand, complying with the EAA yields a number of benefits. First, compliance reduces the likelihood of legal action, including demand letters and lawsuits. This also decreases the chance of business disruption, reputation damage, and customer loss. 

Second, compliance with the EAA shows your commitment to social responsibility — especially if your site includes an accessibility statement or certification. This can enhance your brand image and overall attractiveness to customers who value inclusivity in the brands they support. 

Finally, an EAA-compliant site opens the door to a broader audience. Ensuring everyone — regardless of their abilities — can access and use your digital content expands your audience reach. Creating a positive experience for all your users ultimately increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Prepare for the EAA 2025 Deadline with AudioEye

With just over a year to meet EAA accessibility requirements, the time is now to start increasing accessibility. Being proactive about accessibility not only helps you avoid legal consequences but also improves the user experience, increases customer engagement and satisfaction, widens your audience reach, and highlights your commitment to social responsibility.

At AudioEye, we’re committed to helping you comply with the EAA and other accessibility guidelines. Our Automated Accessibility Platform, coupled with our team of accessibility experts, enables you to find and fix accessibility issues and get one step closer to EAA compliance.

Ready to get started? Use AudioEye’s free Web Accessibility Scanner to get an overview of how accessible your digital content is. Or schedule a demo to learn how you can get EAA-ready with AudioEye.

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