The state of accessibility in the face of the new regulation

Ivana Roksandic Categories: Business Insights Date 16-May-2024
World Accessibility Day News1

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    Europe is currently making a shift from the European Accessibility Directive (EAD) to the European Accessibility Act (EAA). That means accessibility compliance is no longer optional. It is about to become law, requiring all businesses in the EU to meet a minimum AA-level criterion.

    The countdown has already begun – the EAA will enter into force on June 28, 2025. From that moment on, EU businesses will need to make sure their products and services are accessible to people with disabilities.

    To better understand the importance of web accessibility (both for businesses and end users), its applications, and the requirements for its implementation, we talked to our team of web accessibility experts.

    Seamless user experience – for all

    According to the World Health Organization, one in six people worldwide experience some type of disability. European statistics claim the same – 101 million people with some form of disability living in the European Union.

    Given these facts, we can conclude that investing in digital accessibility is not only a legal obligation but a moral one.

    One of the key indicators for measuring society's advancement is the care of people with disabilities. So, it is not just a benefit – it is our responsibility to ensure that all people have equal access to digital solutions.

    Milovan Pocek, QA Principal at Vega IT

    However, the major misconception about accessibility is that it targets just the digital products created for permanently disabled users. We should not forget that this approach is also helpful to users at various stages of their lives, as well as people with temporary disabilities, such as temporary blindness. There is a range of situational limitations – intense sunlight or noisy surroundings – where accessible digital solutions simplify users’ lives.

    One such example is the use of electric toothbrushes. Did you know that they were initially developed for individuals with limited motor skills? Today, they are widely recommended by dentists worldwide.

    Accessibility promotes and requires simplicity, and we know it most often leads to brilliant solutions that benefit everyone. Therefore, accessibility is important for all of us at some point in our lives.

    Ivana Masic, Front-end Team Lead at Vega IT

    Digital accessibility doesn’t relate to website accessibility only

    Digital accessibility is commonly referred to as website accessibility. However, this is not the only case. It covers a range of products and services, including computers, smartphones, ATMs, ticketing machines, public transport services, and banking services.

    We should also not forget the importance of accessibility for mobile users. For example, iOS and Android have a lot of accessibility features, such as voice controls or magnification tools. It is our responsibility, as accessibility partners, to ensure that our digital solution is compliant with those features.

    Milovan Pocek, QA Principal at Vega IT

    In other words, accessibility needs to be approached holistically to ensure that their digital solutions meet the needs of a diverse range of users, fostering inclusion and maximizing the value of a company’s products.

    Companies creating hardware and physical interfaces should also design their products with accessibility in mind, using bump dots or braille, adjustable controls, and alternative input/output devices.

    Stanislav Grujic, Partner and Co-CTO at Vega IT

    Both a strategic business move and an ethical obligation

    Designing for accessibility brings numerous benefits to companies across various sectors, from eCommerce, telecoms, and energy to finance, education, healthcare, and pharmacy. Here are some of them:

    Larger market reach Companies investing in accessible digital content may find it easier to trade with other companies in the European Union and broaden their target customer reach.
    Fostering innovative thinking Designing for accessibility inspires creativity during the entire product development process.
    Attracting and retaining top talent Companies that support inclusion can also tap into a wider talent pool, inspire employee satisfaction, and retain skilled employees.
    Increased search engine rankings and organic traffic According to SEMrush, 73.4% of the sites had a rise in organic traffic once they adopted Web Accessibility Guidelines.

    Accessible websites tend to be better structured and easier for search engines to navigate, potentially improving search ranking.

    Nikola Mitrovic, Technical Architect at Vega IT

    The European Accessibility Act – what changes does it bring?

    In the past, each EU country could have different accessibility standards. On the other hand, the EAA brings uniformity and consistency. That means each state must adhere to accessibility laws and regulations. The logical move for them would be to implement the EAA in their country's laws.

    One such example is Germany, which enacted the Act of the Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility requirements for products and services – (Barrierefreiheitstärkungsgesetz – BFSG).

    The EAA is a game-changer, not just another regulation, harmonizing accessibility laws across EU states. Creators of the digital world will have to work from the ground up with accessibility in mind and not as something that comes later as an afterthought.

    Ivana Masic, Front-end Team Lead at Vega IT

    The repercussions of not investing in web accessibility

    Businesses that neglect to invest in accessible solutions risk severe reputational damage and significant customer loss. They also alienate a substantial portion of the market – given that people with disabilities represent a large demographic with considerable spending power.

    As for penalties, they are not specified by the regulation. It only emphasizes a regulatory framework that encourages companies to avoid legal and financial repercussions. Therefore, EU member states have varying rules regarding accessibility fines and penalties. Some have established monetary fines and even guidelines for imprisonment for certain corporate roles, while others are yet to define any specific fines or penalties.

    Nikola Mitrovic, our Technical Architect, shared with us the example of Ireland, which implemented EAA into the country’s laws. The regulation provides strict penalties for breaches of these requirements – the fines range from €5,000 or imprisonment of up to 6 months or both to €60,000 or imprisonment of up to 18 months or both.

    The dangers of AI widgets for web accessibility

    As the EAA enforcement is all but imminent, businesses are looking for efficient and affordable ways to adopt web accessibility. That is where AI-powered widgets come into play. While they seem to offer a faster and cheaper solution for web accessibility testing and reporting, what are their long-term benefits for companies?

    Unfortunately, there are none.

    Ivana Masic, our Front-End Lead, emphasizes that AI widgets are based on assistive technology, where they offer certain things such as a screen reader and font size adjustments. However, to get the most out of the features offered by the tool, users must familiarize themselves with it and adapt the features for themselves. That is quite the opposite to the mere essence of accessibility, right?

    World Accessibility Day News2

    Some of these tools are only UI solutions (manual layer), while others have an AI background process through which certain things are practically injected and changed via the source code, which raises a number of security questions. There are numerous examples of lawsuits that companies received from their users because of such tools, and therefore, we have to approach this topic and task very seriously.

    People may get a false sense of accessibility. From disabled overlays to script failures, these tools may bring numerous risks to the table, causing a number of WCAG violations and increasing the risk of getting sued.

    Nikola Mitrovic, Technical Architect at Vega IT

    Strategic planning and technical support as a means of overcoming barriers to EAA implementation

    When it comes to the implementation of the EAA, businesses face numerous challenges along the way.
    For example, implementing accessibility features can require additional time and financial investment. Our partner and Co-CTO, Stanislav Grujic, emphasizes that we should not forget the technical debt for outdated legacy systems, which often demand major redesign and development expenses.
    He adds that, from building a strategy to implementation, testing, and maintenance, the entire process requires specialized technical knowledge that allows software solution creators to observe the process holistically and get the most out of it.

    The solution to this problem lies in working with a partner company with experience in web accessibility solutions and extensive knowledge of the EU accessibility regulations.

    Digital agencies often partner with software development companies to help them with the technical aspects of developing fully accessible, end-to-end digital solutions.

    In this age, digital agencies can't afford to treat accessibility as an afterthought. It's not just about avoiding lawsuits; it's about riding the inclusive wave. Keep in mind – the stakes are high.

    Nevena Nikolic, Partner and Project Director at Vega IT

    Digital agencies and technical partners – a match made in heaven

    In a recent article, Nevena Nikolic, our Partner and Project Director, emphasized that web accessibility isn't just about risk mitigation. It's about foresight and understanding the global accessibility ecosystem.

    The State Of Accessibility In The Face Of The New Regulation News2

    At Vega IT, we have collaborated with some of the biggest players on the market, such as Dept, Tangent, Emperor, and Emakina, providing far more than just software development skills and team augmentation. With our extensive experience in the domain, we bring fresh perspectives to web accessibility projects and create innovative solutions that meet the strictest legislative standards.

    While they focus on the design aspects of the digital product, we help them with the following:

    Initial assessment and planning

    We help the agency assess the client's digital product.

    Strategy development

    Together, we consider different factors impacting the development process and create a thorough strategy.


    We take the lead in implementing the accessibility features. This includes a mindful process of approaching best practice development with accessibility in mind, parallel to the UI/UX, code, and content side of the product.

    For legacy code that does not include key accessibility features, this would mean making changes to the website code, optimizing content for screen readers, improving keyboard navigation, and ensuring compatibility with assistive technologies.

    But first of all, we need a detailed analysis in order to obtain the most optimal solution and approach in cooperation with clients.


    Quality assurance

    Since test automation tools can not cover 100% of accessibility testing, we analyze test results and perform additional manual testing to make sure the digital solution meets web accessibility standard.

    Ongoing support and maintenance

    After the accessibility features are implemented, we ensure that the website remains accessible as it evolves over time.

    Digital accessibility is here to stay

    Digital accessibility is far more than just another legal obligation – it is the commitment that all stakeholders should take to ensure a better tomorrow for everyone.

    Most importantly, it isn’t going anywhere. It represents a global movement that starts with innovation, education, and continuous improvement. Given that, it should be perceived as a unique opportunity not to stand out but to survive in an ever-changing digital landscape.

    At Vega IT, accessibility isn't just another ticket to resolve – it represents a guiding philosophy ingrained in everything we do. True innovation should touch lives, bridge gaps, and shape experiences. Let’s build the world you imagine – together.

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    Ivana Roksandic Content writer
    Curious. Strategic. Creative. Ivana has a decade of experience in all aspects of the content ecosystem, from strategizing to creative writing. She enjoys reading, yoga, and singing when no one’s around.

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