European Parliament 'Worst in class on Digital Accessibility'

European Parliament website scores behind all national parliament websites

The low score of the European Parliament, a barely passing grade of 55.8 out of 100, was revealed in the new report “Democracy, Digital Accessibility and the European Union”, launched today by the European Disability Forum and Siteimprove. The report analysed the accessibility of the official website of the parliaments of the 28 Member States and included the European Parliament website.

This is not a surprise for persons with disabilities working in EU affairs. Complaints include lack of captioning in their livestreams, rendering them unusable for deaf or hard of hearing users, pages that are not correctly marked, rendering them unreadable to blind and partially sighted persons relying on assistive technology, among others.

Rafal Kanarek, a Polish person who frequently uses the website described his experience:

I find the websites overloaded. Navigation with screen readers, a type of software that reads aloud the information on the page and allows us to interact with it, is not easy. Recently, I could not select the language of the website with the screen reader I was using (Jaws 12). Next to the language selector, I found an unlabelled button. Also, the documents in PDF are often not accessible for blind and partially sighted persons.

National parliament websites rank better but not by much. Only 3 Member States scored above the classification of poor accessibility: Greece, Denmark and the Netherlands.

This is an effective breach of rights of EU citizens with disabilities, who will face additional difficulties in accessing political information. It is especially worrying as EU Member States face legal obligations to render all public sector websites accessible by 2021, thanks to the EU Web Accessibility Directive [1].

Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum, said:

It is especially sad to see the inaccessibility of the European Parliament’s website, given their recent call for engagement in the European Elections. The European Parliament needs to lead by example and assure their website is to all EU citizens.

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