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New EU accessibility requirements promote the equal use of products and services

The EU is issuing new accessibility requirements whose aim is to ensure that con-sumers have equal access to various products and services and to promote the free movement of these products and services within the EU. The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom monitors compliance with the accessibility requirements in cooperation with the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland. The new acts will enter into force on 1 February 2023 and be applied as of 28 June 2025.

The shared EU accessibility requirements apply to central products and services used by consumers. The new requirements are applied to products placed on the market after 28 June 2025 and to services provided to consumers after 28 June 2025, whether new or existing ones. The primary aim of the accessibility requirements for products and services is to promote the equal opportunities of persons with disabilities to participate in society. The accessibility of products and electronic services also benefits others, such as the elderly. 

Accessibility to cover a number of digital services and different smart devices and applications 

Product manufacturers, importers and distributors as well as service providers must adhere to the new requirements. The accessibility requirements apply to products, such as computer hardware systems, smartphones and smart televisions, automated teller machines and ticketing machines. Traficom monitors that these products comply with the accessibility requirements.

The accessibility requirements are also applied to electronic communications services, such as telephone and text message services as well as email and instant messaging services. Furthermore, the requirements are applied to services providing access to audiovisual content services, such as electronic programme guides, websites, mobile applications and the applications of set-top boxes and smart televisions. These services are often digital services, such as services for instant messaging (e.g. WhatsApp and Messenger) and websites and applications through which audiovisual programmes are watched (e.g. Yle Areena). 

Traficom and the Regional State Administrative Agency monitor accessibility together

The Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland monitors the accessibility of digital services in all of Finland. If, in addition to the Act on the Provision of Digital Services, a service is subject to some additional requirement in accordance with the Act on Electronic Communications Services, such as real-time text, compliance with this requirement is monitored by Traficom. In addition, the monitoring of compliance with accessibility requirements by traditional telephone and other communications services is the responsibility of Traficom. 

The accessibility requirements apply to passenger traffic services, such as the websites and mobile device-based services of transport service providers. The accessibility of websites and mobile applications as well as e-commerce services is monitored by the Regional State Administrative Agency. Furthermore, passenger traffic service providers are subject to obligations related to the provision of accessibility information. Compliance with these obligations is, in turn, monitored by Traficom. 

The new acts apply to both public and private operators when they provide consumers with products or services that fall within the scope of the regulation. The requirements do not apply to microenterprises that provide services. A microenterprise is an enterprise which employs fewer than 10 persons and which has an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 2 million or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 2 million.

The acts will enter into force on 1 February 2023. The new requirements are applied within the framework of transition periods from 28 June 2025 onwards. 

Enquiries

Päivi-Maria Virta, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 29 539 0467, paivi-maria.virta@traficom.fi

Tiina Aaltonen, Project Manager, tel. +358 29 539 0526, tiina.aaltonen@traficom.fi

 

Read more:

Website of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health: implementation and content of the European Accessibility Act (External link)

Traficom website: accessibility requirements (External link) 

Regional State Administrative Agency website: accessibility requirements (External link)

European Accessibility Act (EU) 2019/882 (External link)