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12 July 2023

The European Accessibility Act (EAA), aimed at introducing accessibility requirements for products and services across the European Union (EU), is set to have significant implications for businesses. Sectors such as banking, technology, media, and transport services will be particularly affected. Ecommerce services will also fall within the scope of the EAA, making it crucial for online businesses to be aware of and address the requirements.

While the EAA was enacted in 2019, it will officially apply from 28 June 2025. However, several EU Member States, including Ireland, missed the initial deadline for transposing the act into national law. This creates uncertainty and challenges for businesses striving to comply with the EAA, as they may have a shorter window than expected to prepare for its implementation.

Despite the missed deadline for publication, the obligations for in-scope products and services under the EAA will still take effect from 28 June 2025. This relatively short period poses challenges, especially considering that significant changes may be required to meet the new requirements. The lack of finalized Irish implementing legislation further complicates matters, as businesses may hesitate to invest in upgrades without knowing the precise requirements. However, since the EAA’s requirements are unlikely to deviate substantially, businesses should use the lead time to undertake important preparatory work, pending the publication of Ireland’s draft implementing measures.

Harmonized technical standards, as envisioned in the EAA, have not yet been adopted. The European Commission published a draft standardization request in December 2021, based on the WCAG 2.1 guidelines, but finalization is pending. Compliance with the harmonized standards will be important for many businesses, as products and services adhering to them will be presumed to conform to the EAA requirements.

To read more about this announcement, please read Mason Hayes and Curran’s article.