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ACT NOW! EDF Position on the European Standard on “accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe”

The Standardization Mandate 376 on European accessibility requirements for public procurement of products and services in the ICT domain (M/376) was launched in 2005 by the European Commission, and was made possible by the inclusion of reference to accessibility, design for all and fight against discrimination on the basis of disability in the Public Procurement Directive for which EDF advocated in the past. The European standard (EN) which follows this Mandate also gains importance for the disability movement, due to the proposal for a Directive on Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies’ Websites refers to it (WCAG2.0 are incorporated in the EN).
 
Mainstreaming disability into the European Standards can make a great difference in people’s life by ensuring a more inclusive society for all, including the so-called Information Society. For this reason EDF have been involved in the development of this EN especially focused on the needs of persons with disabilities when accessing ICT products and services. After eight years of work, the deliverables of this Mandate, including the EN, have finally been sent for Formal Vote to the National Standardisation Bodies (NSBs).
 
Hence, we welcome this European Standard on “accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe” as a step towards a more accessible ICT environment for persons with disabilities. However, in the last stage of this standardization process there were some hard discussions among the Joint Working Group (JWG) members and, in some provisions, our -and others’- proposals and objections were completely and openly ignored on the basis that our status was just observers. We were told that consensus could be reached without us; although this EN targets persons with disabilities (minutes of these final meetings are available upon request to EDF Secretariat).
 
EDF denounced and regretted this situation and requests all its members to contact their NSBs and highlight those requirements that were reduced, and those changes that have damaged this crucial EN. The overall result is obviously positive, and from DPOs we will promote the use of this EN even beyond public procurement, nevertheless we also need to state our concerns in order to be taken into account in the next revision (still undetermined).
 
To read EDF technical comments on the EN 301 549 final draft please click here.
 
The Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe draft document is available here.
 
For more information please contact:
 
Alejandro Moledo, EDF New technologies and Innovation Officer
T +32 2 282 46 05 | alejandro.moledo@edf-feph.org