Study status of digital accessibility in EU Member States
In 2016, the European Commission created the European Accessibility Directive, which has since required all national, regional, local and semi-public authorities to make their websites and mobile applications accessible. To ensure this, member states must report on this every three years in so-called accessibility monitors. However, closer inspection of 26 European monitors shows that hardly any country has a fully compliant website/app.
Majority of websites and apps are not satisfactory
Europe requires governments to develop their websites and (web) apps in such a way that they are accessible to all users, including the 135 million Europeans with a disability. Accessibility functionalities should include the ability to adjust font size, the operability of websites for people with mobility impairments, and the provision of alternative text so that people with visual impairments can read what is shown in images and videos. However, our research has shown that almost none of the EU member states have websites or apps that meet the requirements after a full (in-depth) audit. With a simplified (automatic) scan 84% of the websites/apps do not pass the inspection. However, a simplified scan provides very limited information about accessibility. And even with this limited insight, the majority of websites and apps do not pass the requirements set by the European Union. After the full scan almost all websites and apps are rejected.
No comprehensive overview of websites and apps
Most EU member states do not have a central register or other overview which provides information about the accessibility of their websites and apps. Without such a system, it is difficult for the monitoring body to assess a country’s level of accessibility. It also makes enforcement almost impossible. Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Greece and Denmark do have such a survey. In the Netherlands, for example, the number of accessibility statements in the register has increased (2020-2021) from 1,683 to 3,024 (+80%). The Netherlands was able to easily check a large number (3,024) of websites for accessibility due to this register. In comparison, the country with the most automatic scans after the Netherlands is Germany with 1,762 scans. Our eastern neighbours do not have a complete overview.
EU countries do not keep to the rules
The survey also showed that some countries have not kept to the agreements. For example, some monitors on accessibility are not accessible themselves, France and Cyprus did not submit a monitor, and the testing of apps was sometimes omitted from the reports. Due to lack of time, several countries were unable to conduct the minimum number of surveys. Therefore, the member states do not comply with the European directive.
Evaluation results to follow in June 2022
Independent of the Digitally Accessible research, the European Commission launched an evaluation in 2021 to assess and improve the European Accessibility Directive. The results of that evaluation are expected in June 2022.
What did we study?
Every three years, all EU member states are required to conduct a study on the status of digital accessibility in their country. The findings are recorded in the “Web Accessibility Directive – Monitoring reports”. By December 2021, all member states were required to submit these reports to the European Commission. In our research, we compared the different monitors to get an idea of the state of digital accessibility in the EU. Because the member states report the surveys in different ways, it is not easy to get an overview of accessibility in the EU.
What does a monitor report look like?
The EU has drawn up guidelines for conducting accessibility monitors (EU 2016/2101). Each member state must conduct three types of surveys for the monitor:
A certain number of websites with simplified (automatic) scan A certain number of websites with full (manual) scan A certain number of apps How is the sample determined of the survey The size of the sample is determined by the EU. It depends on the number of inhabitants a member state has. For the simplified tests, 2 websites per 100,000 inhabitants should be investigated, plus 75. As an example, 18 million people live in the Netherlands. This brings the sample to 360 + 75 = 435 websites. The EU directive states that in the first two monitoring periods 5% of the websites can be chosen from the list of the simplified scan sample (435) plus 10. As an example for the Netherlands, this amounts to 21.75 (435*0.05) + 10 = 31.75 websites. Furthermore the EU directive describes that the sample should take into account civil society organisations, diversity of services, national, regional and local websites and if possible a geographically balanced distribution.
Score simplified investigations Below you can find the score of the websites/apps that do not meet the EU directives after simplified investigations. What is striking is that almost no country has a website/app that is fully accessible after a simplified survey. On average, 85% of the websites of all EU countries passed the simplified test.
Score of in-depth investigations
Below you can find the score of the websites/apps that do not comply with the EU directives after in-depth research. What is striking is that almost no country has a website/app that is fully accessible after in-depth testing. In the manual tests an average of 93.23% failed.
Total sample surveys per country
Below you can see the total number of websites that had a simple survey in the monitor per EU member state.
Below you can see the total number of websites that had an in-depth investigation in the monitor per EU member state.
Below you can see the total number of apps that had an in-depth investigation in the monitor per EU member state.
Total overview of countries, simple-, in-depth- and app studies
|EU Member State||Sample in-depth research (Apps)||Sample simple research (websites)||Sample in-depth research (websites)|
|France||Not available||Not available||Not available|
|Cyprus||Not available||Not available||Not available|
We have conducted the survey with great care, but it is possible that there are minor differences between our report and the results from the member states. Should you encounter an inconsistency, please let us know.