Following Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 16, 2019) and the recent European Union (EU) Parliament elections, the European Commission and its governing leaders have again renewed their commitment to improving digital inclusion and accessibility. The EU, led by the efforts of the Commission, has developed and implemented several pieces of legislation that ensure citizens have equal access to content both online and in the public sphere.

The need is certainly there. As a recent infographic shows, around 80 million people living in the EU have a disability, but currently less than 10% of European websites are accessible to this population. Citizens with disabilities are seeking everything from easier access to online public information and digital services like banking and shopping to alternative methods for contacting emergency services to improved entertainment experiences in TV and literature.

In order to promote e-inclusion, the EU has worked to bring about new policies such as:

  • The Web Accessibility Directive which sets standards for public sector websites and mobile apps so their content can be accessed and understood by all users.
  • The European Electronic Communications Code which ensures affordable internet access regardless of a user’s income, location, or disability.
  • The Audiovisual Media Services Directive which, amongst other items, provides services such as sign language, subtitles, audio descriptions, video on demand, and easy-to-understand menu navigation.
  • The eIDAS Regulation on trust services and electronic identification which lays out the framework for safe, convenient, and accessible electronic interactions between government entities, businesses, and citizens.
  • The Marrakesh Directive and Regulation which gives visually impaired and blind citizens better access to books and printed materials.
  • The European Accessibility Act which removes barriers to education and labor and promotes the availability of accessible ICT products and services like smartphones, banking and transportation services, and e-commerce.

For the last 20+ years, ReadSpeaker has supported the EU in its initiatives to increase digital accessibility. As a global voice specialist in the text-to-speech space, ReadSpeaker has led the charge in developing high-quality, lifelike synthetic voices that help businesses ensure that every website visitor, mobile app user, customer, or online learner can interact with and utilize their products. Our text-to-speech tools cross lines of business and not only prove essential to a better user experience in the private domain, but are also improving e-inclusion for government entities. ReadSpeaker’s mission has always been to help facilitate an inclusive digital experience and looks forward to future opportunities to advance European Commission legislation.

Contact us today to learn more about how ReadSpeaker can help the online and offline content of your business or organization more accessible with text to speech technology.