I noticed recently a press release that European commission published in July. The headline was: “Commission wants a web that is better enabled for the disabled“. I was present at the conference in Riga in 2006 that followed after the MINISTERIAL DECLARATION was signed by all current member states. Paragraph number 25 declared that: “Promoting and ensuring accessibility of all public web sites by 2010, through compliance with the relevant W3C common web accessibility standards and guidelines.The commissioner on Information, Society and Media, Viviane Reding said in her Key note speech in Riga that she will pull the ears of the ministers that didn’t realize the whole content of the declaration :-) In this press release she says that: “Access to internet websites is essential for many citizens in Europe, yet many simply cannot use them because of disabilities. As long as web accessibility for all is not a reality, many people miss out on the benefits of the Internet. There are such simple solutions to these issues – so why is it that so few web publishers actually implements them?” asks Viviane Reding in the press release. “The more people use the internet, the better for Europe’s economy and the richer becomes online content. I call on the web publishing industry and public sector administrations to make a much more determined effort to ensure the web is accessible to everyone. Those responsible should remember that in a few years time, they will probably find themselves amongst those having trouble to read the screen.” But as the commission express slightly bitterly further on in the press release: “Despite repeated calls by the EU and government leaders to improve this situation, progress remains limited: by far the majority of websites fail to use universally accepted user-friendly solutions.” There are just 17 months left until year 2010 and YES there are still a LOT inaccessible websites and information out there. Screendump from the Roaming website with a ReadSpeaker button pointed out. Vivane Reding also visible at the bottom right cornerBut this is a good and clear message from the Commission. And it is of course extra nice when they count speech-enabling of text as one of three “Web accessibility solutions”. ;-) And since they are also a ReadSpeaker customer it gets super nice when they in the press release tell people to click on the speaker icon next to the headline at http://ec.europa.eu/roaming to test a “screen reader”. ReadSpeaker is not a traditional screen reader (like “Jaws” that is usually used by visually impaired) but it does read the main text content that is displayed on the screen. For more information see: