On 1 April 2019, the European Commission adopted a work programme for 2019 for financing Pilot Projects and Preparatory Actions in the field of "Communications Networks, Content and Technology"1.
The Web Accessibility Directive2 establishes common accessibility requirements to make the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies across the EU more accessible, in particular for persons with disabilities. The reference to the harmonised European Standard EN 301 549 v2.1.2 (‘HEN’)3 in support of the Directive was published in December 2018, providing presumption of conformity with the accessibility requirements set forth in the Directive.
Organizations beyond those in the scope of the Directive are also encouraged to follow accessibility best practices and conform to the HEN. By providing online and mobile services in a more accessible way, public sector bodies and private enterprises will reach more citizens and customers, thus reaping the economic and social benefits of web accessibility.
Incorporating features in authoring tools or platforms to meet accessibility requirements by default ("web access by default") will provide an effective way to support compliance with the Web Accessibility Directive. These features will facilitate the creation and maintenance of accessible websites and mobile applications, thus accelerating the adoption of web accessibility standards.
The objective of this preparatory action is to support the adoption of the accessibility requirements set forth in the HEN when producing content for websites and mobile applications.
To that end, grants will be awarded to proposals developing authoring tools or platforms that help authors comply by default with the requirements of the HEN. Priority will be given to open-source or free-to-use solutions and to proposers involving users with disabilities, in particular in the validation process; accessibility of the tools or platforms for authors with disabilities will be considered an asset.
The expected results of this preparatory action are the following:
The solutions supported under this preparatory action should automate as much as possible the features of authoring tools or platforms that provide accessibility by default. Where such automation is not possible, the authoring tools or platforms should minimise the need for technical intervention by the author (e.g. the tool/platform should trigger an automatic request to type in an alternative text description for a picture).
The proposals must take into consideration:
The proposed actions should aim to take into account the results and relevant recommendations of the pilot project financed under the call "Application of web accessibility requirements in web-authoring tools and platforms by default (Web Access by Default)"4, when available.