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Liadh Ní Riada MEP welcomes progress on a online accessibility for people with disabilities

12 May, 2016 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has welcomed an agreement at EU level on a directive which will makes public sector websites and mobile apps more accessible, especially for the blind, the deaf and the hard of hearing. The agreement was reached during negotiations between the European Council, the Commission and the Parliament. The Directive on Web Accessibility for Public Sector Websites will go to a vote of the European Parliament for approval, and member-states will then have 21 months to transpose its measures into national legislations.

“I welcome this agreement and the progress towards improved online accessibility for people with disabilities, especially people who are blind, deaf or hard of hearing, and I call on the Government here to take the initiative and ensure that its online platforms and communications are made fully accessible ahead of the introduction of this law.

“The internet is a powerful and useful tool. This is especially true in the field of public administration and public services. The EU requires state services to move more and more of its business online. This allows for greater efficiency and speed in processing applications, but it also puts some people at a disadvantage. It is important that those who wish to conduct their business offline are allowed to do so.

“It's important also that public service websites and mobile apps are made fully accessible to the blind, the deaf and the hard of hearing. It is a matter of equality and respect.

“The Directive will require all new public sector apps and websites will have to be accessible, and existing ones will have to be updated. Existing content will be available in an accessible format on demand, and new content in the form of text, audio or video will need to be provided in accessible format shortly after publication. Online application and payment services will also need to be fully accessible to all.

“It may take up to two years for this directive to have an impact on Irish law, so I am calling on the incoming government to begin the process of updating and improving its online content and platforms now, rather than waiting until required to do so.”

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