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The EU Accessibility Act

Published on 10 October 2022

The question

What obligations will the EU Accessibility Act place on companies that manufacture or provide in-scope products and services?

The key takeaway

The EU Accessibility Act (Directive 2019/882) (the Act) will bring in significant changes on the ways in which companies provide products and services to the public. All companies should start considering the Act and the impact it will have on their business, noting it comes into force on 28 June 2025.

The background

The Act is a landmark EU law which, once in force, will require everyday products and services to be accessible for persons with disabilities. Products and services within the scope of the Act include: (i) electronic communications services; (ii) services providing access to audio-visual media services; (iii) some elements of passenger transport services; (iv) consumer banking services; (v) e-books and dedicated software; and (vi) e-commerce services.

The Act’s requirements

The new rules will facilitate disabled persons access to public transport, banking services, computers, TVs, e-books, online shops, and much more. Companies involved in the provision of these services will need to ensure compliance with the requirements of Article 13 of the Act. 

Article 13 provides that service providers shall: 

  • ensure that they design and provide services in accordance with the accessibility requirements (as set out in Annex I) of the Act
  • include information assessing how services meet the accessibility requirements in their general terms and conditions and make this information available to the public in written and oral format, including in a manner that is accessible to those with disabilities
  • ensure that procedures are in place so that the provision of services remains in conformity with the applicable accessibility requirements 
  • in the case of non-conformity, take corrective measures to bring the service into conformity with the applicable accessibility requirements as well as immediately inform the competent national regulator of the Member State in which the service is provided, and
  • further to a reasoned request from a regulator, provide it with all information necessary to demonstrate compliance of the service with the applicable accessibility requirements. 

Companies manufacturing in-scope products will need to ensure compliance with the requirements of Article 7 of the Act. Article 7 provides that when placing products on the market, companies should ensure that they: 

  • design and manufacture products in accordance with the applicable accessibility requirements (again, as set out in Annex I) of the Act 
  • draft the relevant technical documentation in accordance with Annex IV of the Act
  • hold all relevant documentation regarding technical specifications and conformity with the Act for a period of five years 
  • indicate their name, trademarks and address on the product or the packaging, and 
  • provide instructions and safety information alongside the product. 

Penalties for non-compliance with the Act as well as the relevant enforcement powers of the national regulators will be decided at a national level as the Act is transposed into local law.

Companies with products and services in the scope of the Act should check the national laws and regulations transposing the Act in their country for compliance requirements.

When does the Act come into force? 

All products and services placed onto the market on or after 28 June 2025 will need to comply with the Act (barring a narrow exception for products that are used to deliver services, for which there will be a transitional period). 

Why is this important?

The Act puts in place a robust mechanism to ensure compliance with its accessibility requirements. It requires Member States to ensure:

  • regular compliance checks
  • complaints are reviewed and followed up
  • companies take necessary corrective actions, and
  • consumers know which authority to turn to with their complaint.

It is envisaged that the Act will have a global impact by requiring companies that provide services in the EU (even if not necessarily based in the EU) to adhere to the Act or face the potential legal consequences.

It follows that an early focus on the implications of the Act, in particular product and service design, is important for all in scope businesses. 

Any practical tips?

Whilst the measures envisioned by the Act are not due to take effect until 28 June 2025, companies should start to take steps now in order to achieve compliance. This should begin with updating the business so that the relevant stakeholders are aware of the impending legislation and can begin long-term planning and R&D work accordingly.

Additionally, any long-term projects should immediately start to consider the impact of the Act and ensure that steps are taken to help ensure conformity.

Autumn 2022