The European Accessibility Act

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Promoting accessibility is important so that everyone has equal opportunities to participate in the life of the community. This objective is also supported by the European Accessibility Act (EAA).

The EAA requires that both the public and private sector actors guarantee the accessibility of certain products and services. The EAA must be transposed by each EU Member State by 28 June 2022. As a result, changes in Finnish legislation will be necessary. 

According to the Directive, the accessibility requirements must be in force starting on 28 June 2022. However, the application of the provisions will not begin until 28 June 2025. Products and services entering the market mainly after 28 June 2025 must be accessible. 

Everyone benefits from accessible products

The objective of the EAA is, among other things, to:

  • increase the availability and free movement of accessible products and services by harmonising relevant requirements in the Member States
  • make products and services more accessible and, in this way, make society more inclusive and facilitate the independent lives of persons with disabilities

Accessibility also requires that websites and mobile applications are designed to be more accessible to users, especially persons with disabilities.

EAA covers a wide range of products and services

Accessibility requirements are binding on public administration organisations and the private sector, that is, anyone who produces or provides products or services falling within the scope of the EAA.  

Examples of products governed by the EAA: 

  • Computers and their operating systems
  • Self-service terminals such as payment terminals, ATMs and ticket machines
  • Smartphones
  • Devices for accessing audiovisual media services, such as digital TV receivers and digital televisions
  • Electronic book readers

Examples of services governed by the EAA:

  • IT and communications services
  • Services related to transport, such as websites and mobile applications, electronic tickets and their purchasing, real-time travel information
  • Consumer banking services
  • Electronic books and software for their use
  • Online trading

The EAA must also be taken into account in the following areas:

  • Calling the emergency services (112)
    Built environment
    Public procurement

The implementation of the EAA in Finland

In accordance with the Government's policy, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for co-ordinating the implementation of the EAA, while other ministries participate in the preparation in line with their specific field. 

A working group set up by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will prepare a proposal on the transposition of the EAA into Finnish law. Stakeholders were consulted as comprehensively as possible during the preparation. 

The Government proposal includes a new Act on Accessibility Requirements for Certain Products along with amendments to the Act on the Provision of Digital Services, the Act on Electronic Communication Services, the Act on Transport Services and the Act on Emergency Response Centre Operations. The intention is to lay down more specific provisions on accessibility requirements in a decree. The responsibility for implementing legislation in Åland is determined by the division of authority laid down in the Act on the Autonomy of Åland. Åland will draft amendments to the legislation of Åland to the extent necessary.

Follow the discussion on the government proposal on the Parliament website, government proposal 41/2022 vp (in Finnish). 
 

Further information

Emilia Sormunen, Project Manager 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Department for Communities and Functional Capacity / YTO, Functional Capacity Unit / TOK 0295163418