The Future of Digital Accessibility in the Netherlands
In an increasingly digitized world, digital accessibility has become a crucial part of the online experience. We previously wrote about the importance of digital accessibility in our blog. Unfortunately, we have seen organizations often only give serious consideration to digital accessibility when legal obligations urge them to do so. This reluctance is unfortunate, especially considering that the Netherlands has over 6 million people with disabilities!
With new legislation on the way, companies will soon be obliged to pay serious attention to this. In this blog, we explain to you what exactly is going to change.
Current and Future Legislation
Since July 2023, there has been a legal obligation in the Netherlands regarding digital accessibility, the “Digital Government Act” . But this legislation only applies to (semi-)government institutions, resulting in many companies not yet being effected.
However, the new Accessibility Directive, or European Accessibility Act (EAA), will dramatically change the playing field. This European legislation, which will take effect from July 2025, aims to set a consistent standard in digital accessibility across the European Union. The goal is to make online products and services accessible to all Europeans, regardless of their disabilities, thereby ensuring that people with disabilities have the same opportunities in, for example, employment, education and within transportation.
Accessibility is very important for people with disabilities. This group is larger than you might initially think. It includes not only people with visual or hearing impairments, but also a large proportion of the elderly. It is worth remembering that it is not only people with disabilities who benefit from an accessible world. In Europe there are as many as 135 million people with disabilities, and with an aging population, this number is only expected to increase. Improving digital accessibility increases the number of people who can use products and services. So, in addition to a legal obligation, there is also a great opportunity for your company!
What is the European Accessibility Act?
The EAA will apply to various products and services, including:
- Computers and operating softwareE-books
- Web shops
- ATMs, ticket services and check-in machines
- TV equipment related to digital television services
- Telecommunications services, such as your provider’s apps and websites
- Audiovisual media services, such as Netflix, Videoland and Spotify
- Consumer banking services, such as online banking
- Online and offline services related to transportation, such as ticket machines, apps and websites
These products and services must be fully accessible to all Europeans, regardless of their disability. It does not matter if they are produced in the EU or elsewhere; all products sold in the EU must meet these requirements. The requirements of the European Accessibility Act are based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines act as a checklist to assess whether Web sites and apps meet digital accessibility standards. WCAG provides guidelines and success criteria based on four principles: perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. These principles promote a better user experience for everyone. At Get Interactive, we always take these guidelines into account.
Retroactivity and Enforcement
It is important to note that the EAA does not apply retroactively to existing products, including online stores. The law states that only products published as of June 2025 must meet the accessibility guidelines. However, this raises questions about what is considered a “new” Web shop compared to an update to an existing one. There is still ambiguity in this area. In the coming years, this definition will be further refined.
Monitoring compliance with the EAA is the responsibility of national governments. Companies that fail to comply may be fined as of July 2025. The exact level of fines has yet to be determined.
Preparing for the Future
The EAA is a law passed in 2019 that requires European Union member states to take action by July 2025. Because of these major changes, it makes sense to proactively assess and adapt the accessibility of your websites, not only to comply with legal requirements, but also to improve the overall user experience.
So start preparing for the EAA now and make sure everyone can easily access your digital products and services!
Go for Digital Accessibility
Want to learn more about digital accessibility? Be sure to read our blog about the topic. Do you want to prepare your services, or would you like us to help you identify opportunities? Then we would love to help you! Feel free to send us a message using the form below, or give us a call.