Success at the EU! Public bodies must ensure goods they buy are accessible

Post date: 
Friday, 14 March 2014
Category: 
Campaigning
Europe and worldwide
Accessible information

After lobbying for over five years, in mid-January we finally won a longstanding campaign in Europe. New EU rules will now require all public authorities which make large purchases (€100,000-750,000 depending on level of authority) of equipment to ensure that the goods are accessible for disabled people.

This was not covered by The Equality Act. A similar law has existed since the late 1990s in the USA, which was a driving force behind Apple making their products such as the iPhone accessible. The law affects trade across the 28 countries of the European Union and beyond.

The potential impact of this law is considerable, since public authorities spend vast amounts of public money when buying goods, works or services. For example, government departments or local authorities procuring ICT and telephone equipment, self service terminals (such as in GP surgeries or libraries). Public buying affects a substantial share of all trade globally and represents up to a quarter of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in some EU countries.

The EU's Member States have until 2016 to implement this law, but the UK government is keen to push ahead sooner.