Accessibility means that a digital service can be accessed by anyone, regardless of any disabilities or other characteristics such as a visual or hearing impairment, or age, which place limitations on a person’s functional ability. Good accessibility requires the identification of different user needs and consideration for them. Technical procedures required for online service accessibility are not often very difficult or expensive, and Into-Digital is happy to help you with them.

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Online service accessibility – what does it mean and who does it apply to?

Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council  on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies came into effect in December 2016. The directive stipulates the minimum requirements set for the accessibility of public sector bodies’ online services and for monitoring the implementation of accessibility. The accessibility directive aims to improve online services by making them perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. The directive must be implemented nationally by 23.9.2018.

Parties affected by the requirements include:

  • state authorities and public utility companies (e.g. ministries and offices)
  • municipal authorities including public utility companies and schools
  • some parliamentary offices and the Office of the President of the Republic of Finland
  • associations governed by public law in so far as they perform a public administration task
  • independent departments governed by public law (e.g. Kela)
  • universities, as specified in the Universities Act (Yliopistolaki (558/2009))
  • universities of applied sciences, as specified in the Universities of Applied Sciences Act (Ammattikorkeakoululaki (932/2014))
  • the Orthodox church and Orthodox parishes
  • companies that carry out statutory tasks (e.g. vehicle inspection offices, pension and accident insurance companies)

In addition to the aforementioned, another easy and concrete area of accessibility for public sector bodies is the accessibility of their websites and other online services. Accessibility is an absolute necessity, and help from a skilled partner is required in order for most online services to achieve accessibility. Into-Digital is happy to help.

Online service accessibility involves technical accessibility and content accessibility. The usability of an online service is also essential for accessibility.

  • Technical accessibility means that an online service can be used with e.g. assistive technology. Technical accessibility means e.g. that an online service has been flawlessly coded and complies with standards.
  • Content accessibility refers to cognitive accessibility, or that the content is understandable and easy to adopt and use. Content accessibility can be improved by e.g. using clear and simple language, avoiding specialist and difficult-to-understand terms, and by segmenting text content into sections that are easy to browse.

Staggered schedule for implementation:

National legislation to implement the Accessibility Directive will come into effect by the end of 2018. Accessibility requirements will be applied as follows:

  • Websites published after 23.9.2018 must comply with accessibility requirements by 23.9.2019.
  • Websites published before 23.9.2018 must comply with accessibility requirements by 23.9.2020.
  • Mobile applications must comply with accessibility requirements by 23.6.2021.

Mostly, accessibility complies with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG):