EU launches consultation on web accessibility for disabled


BRUSSELS, July 2 (Xinhua) — The European Commission on Wednesday launched a public consultation on measures to make websites accessible to the disabled.

“Access to Internet websites is essential for many citizens in Europe, yet many simply cannot use them because of disabilities. As long as web accessibility for all is not a reality, many people miss out on the benefits of the Internet,” said Viviane Reding, European Union (EU) commissioner for the information society and media.

Web accessibility solutions include enlarging text size, providing spoken output of screen texts with the help of software, and navigating websites with the keyboard instead of the mouse, said the commission, the executive body of the EU.

“There are such simple solutions to these issues. So why is it that so few web publishers actually implement them?” asks Reding.

“I call on the web publishing industry and public sector administrations to make a much more determined effort to ensure the web is accessible to everyone. Those responsible should remember that in a few years time, they will probably find themselves amongst those having trouble to read the screen,” she said.

Founded in 1994 with the European Commission’s support, the World Wide Web consortium defines common specifications for the Internet, including Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. However in 2007, only 5 percent of public websites and less than 3 percent of private websites in the EU are found to be fully accessible according to these guidelines.