May 28, 2015
By SafeGov Contributor, Tracy Mitrano.
Last week the world recognised Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which aims to draw the attention of all communities to digital accessibility.
Making technology accessible to all, especially in today’s digital era, is critical to ensuring every person can live an informed, content-rich and fulfilling life. But to truly promote digital inclusion, more consistent accessibility policies are needed across the board. Member states in the EU have an important opportunity to lead in this area and set accessibility standards globally.
Over the course of the next year, national governments in the EU will look to update their policies and public tender processes following the approval of a revised European Public Procurement Directive, which requires them to transpose the directive into national law. This is an important milestone in the European Commission’s efforts to allow for considerations such as innovation and accessibility to be taken into account when public contracts are awarded.
Considering accessibility as part of the public procurement process is an absolute must. A technology solution purchased should be one that meets stringent accessibility criteria and standards. The revised legislation rightly requires contracting authorities to lay down technical specifications that take into account accessibility criteria for people with disabilities or design for all users. Economic operators also risk exclusion from public contracts if they have proven to be unreliable in terms of accessibility.
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Tracy Mitrano is the director of the Institute for Computer Policy and Law at Cornell University and an active participant in the dialogue on accessibility policy for a wide range of educational institutions.safegoveu