The European Accessibility Act
Promoting accessibility is important so that everyone has equal opportunities to participate in society. This objective is also supported by the
European Accessibility Act (EU Directive 2019/882).
The European Accessibility Act requires that both public and private sector actors guarantee the accessibility of certain products and services. The Act was to be transposed into national law by each EU Member State by 28 June 2022. As a result, changes were also required in Finnish legislation.
- European Accessibility Act (or Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility requirements for products and services)
The application of the accessibility requirements will begin on 28 June 2025. Products and services entering the market after this date must comply with the accessibility requirements. However, the Act allows a few transition periods for, for example, emergency communications, self-service terminals and service contracts concluded before 28 June 2025 or products intended for the provision of services.
Everyone benefits from accessible products and services
The objective of the European Accessibility Act 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 independent living for persons with disabilities.
Accessibility also requires that websites and mobile applications be designed to be more accessible to users, especially persons with disabilities.
European Accessibility Act covers a wide range of products and services
The 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 European Accessibility Act.
Examples of products governed by the Act:
- Computers and their operating systems
- Self-service terminals, such as payment terminals, ATMs and ticket machines
- Devices for accessing audiovisual media services, such as digital TV receivers and digital televisions
- Electronic book readers
Examples of services governed by the Act:
- Telecommunications and communication services
- Services related to transport, such as websites and mobile applications, electronic tickets and the purchasing of electronic tickets, real-time travel information
- Consumer banking services
- E-books and software for their use
The Act must also be taken into account in the following areas:
- Calls to the emergency number (112)
- Built environment
- Public procurement
Implementation of the European Accessibility Act in Finland
In accordance with the Government's policy, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Act, 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 prepared a proposal on the transposition of the Act into Finnish law. Stakeholders were consulted as comprehensively as possible during the preparation. The Government submitted to Parliament a proposal for legislation implementing the Directive on the accessibility requirements for products and services (HE 41/2022 vp).
The Directive, or the European Accessibility Act, has been implemented in Finland by a new Act on Accessibility Requirements for Certain Products. In addition, the amendments required by the Directive have been made to the Act on the Provision of Digital Services, the Act on Electronic Communication Services, the Act on Transport Services, the Act on the Market Surveillance of Certain Products and the Act on Emergency Response Centre Operations. The Acts entered into force on 1 February 2023, but their application will mainly begin on 28 June 2025. The amendments to the Act on Emergency Response Centre Operations will enter into force on 28 June 2025.
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.