In many cases, EU legislation addresses the situation of persons with disabilities with a focus on a specific area. This is the case of the Passenger Rights Regulations for all modes of transport (air, rail, waterborne, bus and coach) that focus on non-discrimination and the provision of assistance for persons with reduced mobilitywhen using transport.14 There is also EU legislation concerning the accessibility of passenger transport vehicles, such as low platform buses15, rail rolling stock16 and waterborne17 and there are technical standards ensuring the accessibility of vehicles for different transport modes. Their scope of application will not be affected by this proposal. Nevertheless, the improved accessibility of transport which this initiative will bring about may facilitate the provision of assistance and/or reduce its need and related costs.
This proposal is in synergy with the proposal for a Directive on the accessibility of public sector bodies' websites18, which covers a specific set of public sector bodies' websites offering specific services. This initiative complements that proposal by addressing some private sector websites. Together, they contribute the realisation of an inclusive e-society put forward in the Digital Single Market Strategy by ensuring the accessibility of websites from providers of basic services to citizens. To ensure that responsible authorities have to implement the same accessibility specifications independent of the type of website, the web-accessibility requirements used in this proposed Directive are identical to those of the proposal for a Directive on the accessibility of public sector bodies' websites.
By defining requirements for accessibility, the proposal would clarify the accessibility obligations of EU legislation establishing obligations on accessibility without providing requirements or specification, for example in the field of public procurement or European Structural and Investment Funds.
It will therefore apply to these initiatives without amending them, despite their different objectives and legal basis, having the benefit of detailing further what is understood by accessibility, contributing to improved legal certainty.
Future legislation with accessibility obligations could reflect the common accessibility requirements of this initiative improving coherence in the internal market.Furthermore, the concept of active ageing promoted by the European Commission during the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations in 2012 highlighted the importance of creating accessible or “age-friendly environments” to enable people to live an independent life in the local community for as long as possible. Accessibility is one of its essential components. Given the strong correlation between disability and ageing,19 accessibility is essential for older persons to remain active, live independently and contribute to the silver economy.20
At international level, the US has a wide framework of accessibility legislation, often with detailed compulsory standards and rules.21 Therefore, and as expressed by several stakeholders (from the ICT industry in particular), the proposal aims to bring coherence between provisions applicable in US and EU rules, given the global character of some products and services. This aim will be facilitated by the standardisation work done under standardisation request M/376.22 This EU initiative on accessibility could set a framework where accessibility standards developed with a global view could help to create a transatlantic market.
This proposal would foster the effective application of other standards related to accessibility and stemming from the Commission’s standardisation requests M/376, M/420 and M/473.