Christian Heilmann

European Member of Parliament sees not much improvement in accessibility

Monday, October 31st, 2005 at 12:03 pm

Just got this as part of the e-government bulletin. Just another example as to how web accessibility has bigger issues than non-encoded ampersands.

European Accessibility Shortcomings ‘Shameful’, Says MEP
Richard Howitt MEP has said it is “shameful” that EU institutions have still not themselves widely embraced global web accessibility guidelines, despite urging their adoption on member states.
“My own institution’s web site was recently found to be inaccessible to people with a disability,” Howitt told an eAccessibility conference hosted in London last week by the UK Presidency of the EU (
Last December, European institutions agreed that web accessibility guidelines should be adhered to by all public sector web sites across the whole of Europe. However Howitt, who is president of the European Parliament’s All-Party Disability Group, said: “It is shameful that the European Parliament is unable to do that nine months later. It shows the huge chasm that exists between good intent and what is the reality in terms of market and the daily experiences of disabled people.”
One of the aims of the conference was to discuss the EU Communication on eAccessibility ( which lays out an action plan to ensure all Europeans receive equal access to digital and electronic products and services. Howitt warned delegates that action on the communication is imperative. “If in two years’ time we have another set of dialogues, you risk losing the confidence of the European Parliament and the citizens of Europe. It’s no good just talking about it: challenge us as politicians to agree it.”
Next month sees the release of findings from a study commissioned by the UK’s E-Government Unit on the accessibility of public sector web sites from across EU member states. The research is due to be published at the ministerial conference on e-government in Manchester in November (

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