The European Accessibility Act
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.
- European Accessibility Act, or the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility requirements for products and services (2019/882) (EUR-Lex)
The accessibility requirements will be valid from 28 June 2022 onwards. The application of the provisions will begin on 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
- 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)
The implementation of the EAA in Finland
The national regulation of products and services covered by the EAA falls under the remit of several ministries.
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.
- Ministry of Transport and Communications: passenger transport, audiovisual services, electronic products and services required by the information society
- Ministry of Finance: banking services, Act on the Provision of Digital Services
- Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment: regulation of new products and services entering the market, public procurement
- Ministry of the Interior: emergency communications
- Ministry of Justice: fundamental rights
- Ministry of the Environment: built environment related to, for example, access to ticket machines
- Ministry of Social Affairs and Health: promoting accessibility
A working group set up by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health prepared a proposal on the transposition of the EAA into Finnish law. Stakeholders were consulted as comprehensively as possible during the preparation.