The EU Directive on the Accessibility of Public Sector Websites, also known as the Web Accessibility Directive (WAD) or Directive 2016/2102, requires all public sector organizations in EU member states to publish an accessibility statement on their websites.

So, what does this regulation mean for you and, more importantly, how do you write a statement for your website or mobile app?

Do I need to write an accessibility statement?

The Web Accessibility Directive applies to all websites and apps published by public sector organizations on the national, regional, and local level. This includes:

  • Public administrations
  • Courts
  • Police departments
  • Public hospitals
  • Universities
  • Schools
  • Libraries

Even if you are unable to meet all the accessibility requirements per the few exemptions stated in the directive, you are still required to prepare a statement.

If you are a public broadcaster or Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that does not provide essential public services or services that pertain to the needs of persons with disabilities, the accessibility requirements do not apply to you and you do not have to write an accessibility statement.

When do I need to have the statement ready?

Your accessibility statement should be published on your websites and mobile apps by the deadlines set out by the directive.

Websites created after September 23, 2018 should already have an accessibility statement present.

For legacy websites created before September 23, 2018 and all mobile applications, the deadlines are as follows:

  • September 23, 2020: Deadline for legacy websites published before September 23, 2018
  • June 23, 2021: Deadline for all mobile applications

How do I write an accessibility statement?

The EU Commission published the minimum requirements for what an accessibility statement must contain. Each member state can choose to enforce additional requirements, which means you should double check your country’s specific laws.

Here is a breakdown of what the accessibility statement should contain, at a minimum, as defined by the EU Commission:

1. Accessibility statement

A short statement outlining your organization’s commitment to making its website and mobile applications accessible in accordance with your country’s accessibility laws.

2. Compliance status

An overview of your website’s or app’s compliance status, as outlined in the directive as:

  • Level AAA - fully compliant
  • Level AA - partially complaint
  • Level A - not compliant

Note that the level of compliance refers to your website as a whole and does not refer to individual web pages.

3. Non-accessible content

If you have content you cannot make accessible, you are required to give an overview of what content is inaccessible, why it is inaccessible, and provide accessible alternatives to that content.

The following are the few acceptable reasons you can give for an inability to comply:

  • Non-compliance with the national legislation
  • Disproportionate burden as outlined in Article 5 of Directive 2102
  • The content is not within the scope of the applicable legislation (i.e., third-party content that is neither funded nor developed by your public organization)

4. Preparation of the statement

You must state the date you prepared the statement and methods used to prepare the statement, as well as the date that the statement was last reviewed.

5. Feedback and contact information

It is important that your users can contact you to request information, report issues, or otherwise give you feedback on your website’s or app’s accessibility compliance.

You should provide a link to, and description of, the appropriate form of contact with the relevant person or unit responsible for accessibility in your organization.  

6. Enforcement procedure

If your users are unsatisfied with the handling of their request or feedback, each EU member state also has an enforcement procedure in place. This procedure designates a person or public body responsible for ensuring your organization is complying to the accessibility requirements.

You must include a link to, and a description of, your country’s enforcement procedure in your accessibility statement.

Additionally, you must provide the contact information of the relevant enforcement body or person, if an unsatisfied user would like to contact them regarding your compliance.

The full set of requirements for the accessibility statement can be found in all the official EU languages on the EUR-Lex European Union Law website.  

Need help writing your statement? You can also try our Accessibility Statement Generator to easily create an accessibility statement in minutes. 

Where do I publish my accessibility statement?

The EU commission recommends hosting the statement on a standardized URL.

A link to the accessibility statement should be prominently placed on the homepage of the website or be made available on every page of the website, for example in the footer.

For mobile apps, the statement must be available on the website of the public sector organization that developed it. Alternatively, you can provide the statement alongside other information available when downloading the application.

How often should my accessibility statement be updated?

You should update your accessibility statement regularly – at least on an annual basis according to the Web Accessibility Directive.

Writing your accessibility statement is only one step in ensuring your organization’s compliance with the directive. For a step by step overview of how to get your website ready for the September deadline this year, be sure to see our post How to prepare your public sector website for the EU Web Accessibility Directive deadline.