Web Accessibility Directive:
Frequently Asked Questions

These are frequently asked questions and answers on the EU Web Accessibility Directive.

The objective of this website is to support the implementation of the Directive and to provide reliable information and resources to those involved in buying, designing and monitoring websites or mobile applications, as well as users. This website is maintained by the Web Accessibility Initiative - Communities of Practice (WAI-CooP) Project.

14. Where can I find information about web accessibility standards?

The European standard for accessibility requirements for ICT products and services is called EN 301 549. Complying with this standard is a way for public sector bodies to meet the mandatory technical requirements of the Web Accessibility Directive. Annex A of EN 301 549 explains how this can be done.

EN 301 549 is a ‘harmonised standard’. Harmonised standards are a specific category of European standards developed by a European Standardisation Organisation following a request, known as a ‘mandate’, from the European Commission. Harmonised standards establish technical specifications which are considered suitable or sufficient in order to comply with the technical requirements given in EU legislation. Hamonised standards are published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

You can use harmonised standards to prove that a product or service complies with the technical requirements of a relevant EU legislation.

EN 301 549 has evolved over time. The current harmonised version of this standard is EN 301 549 version 3.2.1 (2021-03) [PDF Document]

EN 301 549 version 3.2.1 includes requirements from WC3’s internationally recognised Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 (WCAG 2.1).

EN 301 549 version 3.2.1 also includes additional requirements that are not part of WCAG 2.1. Therefore, demonstrating that a website meets all the success criteria of WCAG 2.1 is not sufficient to provide a presumption of conformity with the Web Accessibility Directive.

EN 301 549 is about products and services, so it also includes requirements that are not relevant to the Web Accessibility Directive, for example requirements that apply to hardware.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) adopted Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.2 (WCAG 2.2) in October 2023.

There is ongoing work to develop the W3C Accessibility Guidelines 3.0 (WCAG 3), which will apply to web content, apps, tools, publishing, and emerging technologies on the web.

Read about current EN 301 549 requirements relevant to the Web Accessibility Directive.

New requirements in future versions of EN 301 549 or WCAG will not automatically become legally relevant to the Web Accessibility Directive. This will only be the case if these new requirements are included in Annex A of a new harmonised version of EN 301 549.

15. Where can I find information about accessible software / authoring tools?

Authoring tools are software and services that people use to produce web content. Examples of authoring tools include:

The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) develops the standard called Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG). It is a companion to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and can be used to develop and procure accessible authoring tools.

WAI also has some tips on how to choose authoring tools to produce accessible content but warns that there is no single tool that fully supports production of accessible websites.

16. What should I take into account when procuring accessible websites and apps?

When drafting a call for tenders to procure ICT services, you will need to define selection criteria, award criteria and technical specifications, including accessibility requirements.

One way to define accessibility requirements is to refer to the current European harmonised standard 'Accessibility requirement for procurement of ICT products and services' EN 301 549 V3.2.1 (2021-03) [PDF document]. Complying with this standard is a way to meet the mandatory technical requirements of the Web Accessibility Directive. Find out more information about web accessibility standards

You can use the selection criteria to set out your expectations from potential suppliers in terms of capacity to deliver digital accessibility.

You can use the award criteria to encourage suppliers to deliver a more accessible website and/or mobile application by providing additional accessibility features above and beyond what is required in the Web Accessibility Directive, such as those set out in chapter 9.5 of EN 301 549 [PDF document].

25. How to optimise websites and apps for older people?

Designing products that are easier for older people to use is similar to designing for persons with disabilities.

Guidance on how to make websites and applications accessible for older users is covered in existing web accessibility standards.

Age-related impairments such as declining vision, hearing loss, reduced physical and/or cognitive ability can affect how older people use the web. These issues overlap with the accessibility needs of persons with disabilities. Therefore, websites and applications that are accessible to persons with disabilities are more accessible to older users as well.

More information on the overlaps between accessible design and design for older people.

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