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European Union


Edited by Axel Leblois, Executive Director, G3ict 

Given the strong convergence of objectives between the overall EU Disability Strategy and the UN Convention, the Commission considers that issues relating to the implementation of the UN Convention at EU level should be tackled in the framework of the rolling EU Action Plan on mainstreaming of disability.

As of February 2010, 144 States had signed the Convention, 79 States also ratified it, 88 signed and 50 ratified the Optional Protocol. All the EU Member States and the Community have signed the Convention and 17 Member States signed the Optional Protocol. Austria, Hungary, Spain, Germany, Sweden, and Slovenia have already ratified both the Convention and the Optional Protocol. The process of concluding the Convention by the European Union is underway.
The following resources can be found for detailed information on e-Accessibility programs and policies of the European Union in matters of information society and e-inclusion, employment and public procurement:

Information Society and e-Inclusion
European Commission – E-inclusion
is the European Commission Information Society Thematic Portal. It includes a section on e-Accessibility with a number of resources and references to policies, programs and standards developed at European level: eAccessibility – Opening up the Information Society. Its objective is stated as follows: “To be a real success, the Information Society must share its benefits with the whole society, including people who find it more difficult to use new technologies, such as those with a disability and the elderly. The European Commission is promoting "e-Accessibility" aimed at ensuring people with disabilities and elderly people access ICTs on an equal basis with others. This includes removing the barriers encountered when trying to access and use ICT products, services and applications”.

Employment
European Commission Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
: e-Accessibility also plays an important role at EU level in relation to its policies and programs promoting equal employment opportunity strategies for persons with disabilities.

Public procurement
Following the path opened by the U.S. Access Board and the TEITAC Committee, the European Commission is seeking to develop public procurement policies for ICT products and services promoting e-Accessibility. Of particular importance is its Mandate 376 to European Standards Organizations to provide the foundation for a European Public Procurement policy and practice for accessible Information and Communication Technologies. At the end of 2005, a mandate was given by the European Commission to the European Standardization Organizations (ESOs), CEN and ETSI, to come up with a solution for common requirements and conformance assessment. The final Phase I reports are now available:

CEN/BT WG 185 Project Team Final Report for Approval European accessibility requirements for public procurement of products and services in the ICT domain (European Commission Mandate M 376, Phase 1)

•  ETSI Human Factors (HF); European accessibility requirements for public procurement of products and services in the ICT domain (European Commission Mandate M 376, Phase 1)

Mandate 376 Phase II work is expected to begin late in 2009.

Read more about public procurement and public procurement related research