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Sustainability Brand Strategy Accessibility

Countdown to compliance: How to prepare for the European Accessibility Act

By Richard Trigg | Design partner

Tangent

|

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October 10, 2023 | 6 min read

The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is now no more than a year-and-a-half away. Are you ready for it? Tangent’s Richard Trigg has the lowdown on the next generation of accessibility legislation.

A judge's gavel

New accessibility legislation is coming, in the EU and elsewhere. Is your brand ready? / Tingey Injury Law Firm via Unsplash

Due to be enacted on June 28, 2025, the European Accessibility Act will govern many digital technologies in everyday use across the EU. The new law will apply to all countries in the EU, and international organizations that do business in the EU. Its core purpose? To create equal access for Europeans with disabilities by requiring a mix of products and services to be accessible.

The implications of this incoming legislation are many and varied. A wide range of digital products and touchpoints will be impacted. Consumer banking, digital payment terminals, television equipment, and subscription services are some obvious potential offenders. But what about something as commonplace as a brand’s website?

The case for accessible brand websites

Arguably the predominant shop window for most brands large or small in today’s digital age, optimizing your brand website for accessibility has always been advisable (by any agency worth their salt, at least). But now that formal parameters for compliance are due to be implemented as well as penalties for non-compliance, it’s a great time to ask yourself: can I confidently say that no aspect of digital accessibility has slipped through the cracks of my website?

Accessibility makes sense from every perspective. First and foremost, it is fair and correct for everyone, regardless of their accessibility needs, to have equal ease of use of and access to any given website. There should be an expectation that everyone can participate in as many aspects of society as possible. That extends to digital experiences.

Beyond purpose-led change, there are some serious commercial benefits to consider. There are over 100 million people in the EU with a disability. In the UK, meanwhile, that figure is over around 16 million, representing around 1 in 5 Brits. Businesses could be sacrificing millions in potential spend because outdated websites, apps, designs, tech, or systems cannot cater to this demographic. It is estimated that the spending power of this UK cohort alone is £275 billion a year. That’s a huge figure to ignore.

Over the long term, these benefits only multiply. With mortality rates dropping, an ageing population, and fewer barriers to care, the number of people with registered disabilities will continue to increase. With progressing age often comes loss of vision, mobility, or cognitive ability. When it comes to customer retention, it’s more expensive to find new customers than to retain existing ones. This means that ensuring your touchpoints are future-proofed and accessible, including for those who may develop new disabilities over time, is essential to keeping your customers faithful.

The journey ahead

News of the impending legislation isn’t exactly shocking. As with GDPR, it was only a matter of time before rules of this nature were enforced. Perhaps more shocking, though, is that a date was set and that it’s now less than 2 years to go until crunch time.

There’s a long way to go. To get a feel for just where the industry sits in terms of accessible readiness, our experts dissected the full scope of the incoming legislation and cross-referenced these parameters against our own projects in which accessibility was a key driver for digital transformation. This has allowed us to harness a framework to evaluate success, identify pitfalls and demonstrate the breadth of what it means to be accessible, within four categories. The results paint a picture of the need for many industries to adapt or face the penalties.

The insights gleaned from just a small sample of companies across a handful of industries illuminate the depth and breadth of EAA. Many brands and industries have a long way to go on their journey to compliance. Are you one of them?

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Sustainability Brand Strategy Accessibility

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Tangent

From shaping the underlying strategy to refining the final design and build, we create experiences that enhance people’s lives, prioritise sustainable digital practices, and help you achieve your commercial objectives.

Our 90-strong team is truly global; with team members across the UK (with offices in Newcastle and London), Spain, South Africa, Pakistan and beyond. Our experts specialise across three core areas: Customer Experience & Design, Strategy & Consultancy and Technology & Engineering.

We’re a technology agnostic agency with a demonstrated track record of working with a diverse range of best-in-class tech and mar-tech solutions. We also hold recognised partnerships with providers such as Contentful and Umbraco, among others. Tangent's client list includes Reed, IWG, SAP and UK Power Networks for whom their work claimed Umbraco's Jury's Choice award as well as multiple nods across The Drum, BIMA and Prolific North Tech Awards in 2023.

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