The problems encountered in putting ICT accessibility policies into practice are common across Europe, according to early findings of a survey of policies in 30 nations (the EU countries, plus Norway, Iceland and Switzerland), E-Access Bulletin has learned.
According to research carried out in June for the EU-funded ‘i-access’ project on access to electronic information and lifelong learning, problems encountered include creating accessible content; standards compliance; problems procuring accessible systems; and a lack of awareness and understanding.
The project is run by the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education to raise awareness of the issues surrounding accessible information provision for lifelong learning. While some survey respondents said their organisations provided style guides for creating content, only about half of these addressed accessibility aspects such as considering how a screen-reader would cope.
“There are an estimated 80 million people in the EU with disabilities of varying sorts and to differing degrees, and as the age profile shifts, so too will the proportion with disabilities”, John Galloway, a consultant working on dissemination of i-access findings told E-Access Bulletin this week. “There is no one solution to the issue of ensuring that any information in an electronic format, whether a web-page, a text message, an on-screen document, or an information film, is available to all of them equally,” Galloway said.
“For each country, we need to find out – what policies do they have, and how do they put them into practice? What are the differences and similarities? The lessons learned from across Europe will be brought together for everyone to share, so this difficult issue can be addressed.”
Full details of the research and a report of a project conference co-hosted by the Danish Ministry of Education in Copenhagen this June are due to be published shortly, with the final project recommendations expected towards next summer, Galloway said.