Web accessibility, a digital right
One of the least recognised and often unmet digital rights is that of web accessibility for groups with cognitive or mobility issues. The elderly and people with disabilities use the internet on a regular basis, like everyone else, but they encounter problems that others do not.
Too small fonts that are impossible to enlarge or low-contrast colours that make it difficult to see; both are serious navigation problems for the elderly and those with vision problems. Something as simple as moving the mouse can be a handicap for people with hand motor problems, whereas a video without subtitles prevents deaf people from knowing what is being talked about.
Txell Aymerich is an accessibility consultant at TOTHOMweb, a platform that tries to fill the gap in accessible and quality web content. They are dedicated to creating accessible websites and carry out audits on existing websites to adapt them and make them accessible: “In the United States, they are much stricter with these issues, they impose many sanctions, but here there is a lot of condescension, and until Europe got involved and asked for data, no action was taken,” he regrets.
On 22 December 2016, the European Union Directive 2016/2102 on accessibility of websites and applications for mobile devices of public sector bodies came into force. This directive requires that all public websites be accessible as of 23 September 2020. “This, however, has not been fulfilled,” Txell Aymerich says, “there is still a lot of work to be done, although lately some administrations are getting their act together.”
In this sense, the pandemic has been a test for people who need an accessible website. Many procedures with the administration had to be carried out electronically, with the corresponding disadvantage that this means for people with some kind of disability. The technical guidelines that establish the necessary functions of an accessible website can be found at the following link.