What is EN 301 549?
EN 301 549 is the European Union (EU) standard that pertains to digital accessibility. This standard mandates that all Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the public sector must be fully accessible. No matter what disability a person might have, they should be able to access the same information as those without disabilities.
The standard includes every type of digital technology, including software, mobile apps, websites, and more. Content owners, producers, and managers should make sure that ICT they own does not violate EN 301 549
EN 301 549 was developed by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to set requirements for public procurement of products and services in the European Union. As technologies have evolved, EN 301 549 has been updated to expand accessibility:
EN 301 549 V1.1.2 (2015-04)
EN 301 549 V2.1.2 (2018-08)
EN 301 549 V3.1.1 (2019-11)
EN 301 549 V3.2.1 (2021-03)
Accessibility standards created by different groups around the world need to be “harmonized,” which means they do not contradict each other. If they aren’t, it makes it difficult for software developers and other vendors to create a single product that can be shipped to countries everywhere. Without harmonization, every country would require its own unique design for products to meet their accessibility standards.
Member states of the EU had until September 2018 to create the laws and regulations which enforce the relevant accessibility requirements of EN 301 549.
The most recent update to EN 301 549 adopted the WCAG 2.1 AA to ensure that websites are authored and structured in an accessible and inclusive manner to work as seamlessly as possible with those relying on assistive technologies.
What is WCAG?
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a constantly-evolving set of standards created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international nonprofit that publishes what are generally considered to be the official specifications for HTML, CSS, and several other web technologies. Contributions are made by an international community of member organizations, academics, W3C full-time staff, and the public, working together to develop the WCAG. In fact, staff members at UserWay have key leadership roles in the development of the WCAG.
WCAG is essentially the primary how-to guide for properly coding a website to be accessible for people with disabilities. WCAG contains detailed instructions for website owners, designers and developers on how to create websites, digital content and markup through accessible approaches that work seamlessly with assistive technologies.
WCAG has gone through a series of revisions since its inception and currently stands at version 2.1. The guidelines are broken down into three levels of compliance, with increasing numbers of letter As representing higher standards. You might think of these as being like grades, with the lowest level being "average," the next "above average" and the last "excellence"
There are four principles that guide how the WCAG is managed.
Information and user interface components must be presented to users in ways they can perceive. This means content must be evident to at least one or more of their senses.
So, for example, in order to create a perceivable piece of information that will get through to the senses of the user:
- The web page and its text must be compatible with screen readers or other assistive technology and devices
- Text alternatives must be provided for non-text content (such as images)
- When creating content, consider that it ought to be capable of being presented in multiple ways without losing meaning
- Make it easier for users to see and hear content you provide
User interface components and navigation must be operable. This means that users must be able to operate the interface, and the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform.
Some ways this can be achieved include:
- Making all functionality available from a keyboard
- Giving users enough time to read and use content
- Avoiding content that causes seizures or physical reactions
- Helping users navigate and find content
- Making it easier to use inputs other than a keyboard
Information and the operation of user interfaces must be understandable. This means that users must be able to understand the information, as well as how to operate the user interface.
Some ways this can be achieved include:
- Making text readable and understandable
- Making content appear and operate in predictable ways
- Helping users avoid and correct mistakes
Content must be provided in numerous ways so that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. This means that users must be able to access the content (and remain accessible) as technologies advance.
This can be achieved by:
- Using standards to guide how content is presented
If any of the four WCAG principles are not met, users with disabilities will not be able to use the web. To help developers know exactly how to make content that meets the four principles, Guidelines and Success Criteria are included that provide a roadmap for web content to become as accessible as possible.
The AI-Powered UserWay Accessibility Widget is the easiest way to bring your website into full compliance for not only WCAG, but across all standards. It also ensures any content you add in the future is compliant as well. Making your website standards-compliant will help boost your bottom line, but at its core, it’s about making sure that the doors of your website are open to all. Fundamentally, it’s the right thing to do. Because everyone should have equal access to the internet.
How To Get EN 301 549 Compliant
The AI-Powered UserWay Accessibility Widget is the easiest way to bring your website into full compliance for not only EN 301 549, but across all standards. It also ensures any content you add in the future is compliant as well. Making your website standards-compliant will help boost your bottom line, but at its core, it’s about making sure that the doors of your website are open to all. Fundamentally, it’s the right thing to do. Because everyone should have equal access to the internet.
To learn more about how the UserWay Accessibility Widget complies with EN 301 549, please get in touch. And if you can’t wait to get started using the widget, click the link below to begin a free trial.