The European Accessibility Act: a model for a more accessible digital Europe – Pre 03 2024

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by Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability

17 June 2024 | 10:00 - 11:00 EEST | WS room 1 | Video recording | Transcript
Consolidated programme 2024

Session teaser

The IGF Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability (DCAD) facilitates interaction and ensures that ICT accessibility is included in the key debates around Internet Governance to build a future where all sectors of the global community have equal access to the Information Society. DCAD brings together key stakeholders from the technical community, civil society, government policymakers, regulators, and corporate and individual adopters, with the shared goal of accessibility.

Our goal has always been to ensure that the Internet and its benefits are fully and equally accessible to and independently usable by persons with disabilities, so they can acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services within the same timeframe as individuals without disabilities, with substantially equivalent ease of use. There are many types of disabilities from cognitive disabilities, visual disabilities, and hearing disabilities are just a few. We work with people across the spectrum to provide them with access to and the needs they desire to become active members of the Internet Governance ecosystem.

DCAD focuses on these core principles: affordability, accessibility, usability, and availability for persons with disabilities or specific needs. Accessible technology can be a game changer for persons with disabilities. In this vein, we have been working within the Internet Governance community to promote public interest in and knowledge of the necessity for accessibility for persons with disability and encourage enlightened accessibility measures worldwide.

Session description

The European Accessibility Act took effect in April 2019. The Act's goals are to improve the trade between members of the EU for accessible products and services, by removing country-specific rules. This law was built to complement the EU's Web Accessibility Directive of 2016 and includes a wide range of systems including personal devices such as computers, smartphones, e-books, and TVs, as well as public services like television broadcasts, ATMs, ticketing machines, public transport services, banking services and e-commerce sites that must be accessible to persons of disabilities.

This session will focus on how well several European organizations are living up to these goals and making the EU as accessible as possible. The session will be moderated by Dr. Olivier Crepin-Leblond and by Dr. Mohammed Shabbir, the Coordinator of DCAD. Olivier will open the session and provide an overview of this session while Dr. Shabbir will provide an overview of the DCAD.


  • Vilmantas Balčikonis will share the views on what is important in implementing the European Accessibility Act from an end-user perspective. He will also talk about the uncertainties in implementing requirements stemming from EAA and attempt to address some of them.
  • Lidia Best, President of the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH), will speak about the efforts of the EU Federation of Hard of Hearing People to ensure equitable treatment and participation in health, education, jobs, and other professions.
  • Giacomo Mazzone, EDMO Advisory Board, and EuroDig Board Member will speak about the implementation of this Act in Media and Journalism and also talk about the work of the European Audiovisual Observatory
  • Indre Jurgelioniene, Chief Advisor at the Lithuanian Communications Regulatory Authority and Co-Chair of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) End-User Working Group will speak about the implementation of the ACT from the BEREC perspective, provide an overview of the national legislation related to accessibility, and provide some insight into the challenges they have faced in implementing the Act and the solutions found to overcome the challenges.


Pre-events should give the opportunity to create synergies with 3rd parties i.e. Dynamic Coalitions, Partners. No session principles apply. They are held on day zero in parallel to setting up the venue for EuroDIG. We provide limited technical support.

Let us know here what you want to do.

Further reading

The IGF Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability (DCAD) facilitates interaction and ensures that ICT accessibility is included in the key debates around Internet Governance to build a future where all sectors of the global community have equal access to the Information Society. Our goal has always been to ensure that the Internet and its benefits are fully and equally accessible to and independently usable by persons with disabilities, so they are able to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services within the same timeframe as individuals without disabilities, with substantially equivalent ease of use.

DCAD focuses on these core principles: affordability, accessibility, usability, and availability for persons with disabilities or specific needs. Accessible technology can be a game changer for persons with disabilities. In this vein, we have been working within the Internet Governance community to promote public interest in and knowledge of the necessity for accessibility for persons with disability and encourage enlightened accessibility measures worldwide.



  • Dr. Olivier Crepin-LeBlond (In Person Moderator) and

Dr. Mohammed Shabbir, the Coordinator of DCAD (Remote Moderator)


  • Vilmantas Balčikonis is the Vice President of the Lithuanian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted, with over 5 years of experience in the field of accessibility. Vilmantas actively participates in various accessibility-related events and is well-versed in The European Accessibility Act.
  • Lidia Best, President of the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH)
  • Indre Jurgelioniene, Chief Advisor at the Lithuanian Communications Regulatory Authority and Co-Chair of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) End-User Working Group
  • Giacomo Mazzone, EDMO Advisory Board, and EuroDig Board Member

Video record



Services provided by: Caption First, Inc., Monument, CO 80132, Phone: +001-719-481-9835,

This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: All right, let’s get it going because we haven’t got so much time on our hands, so, please, let’s proceed.

>> Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the session of today. I am Marija, the remote moderator. Before we moderate the session, I would like to go through basic rules of the session. So, please, enter your full name, that’s for the remote participants, when you join. If you want to ask a question, raise hand using the Zoom function. Then you’ll be unmuted, and the floor will be given to you. And when speaking, switch on the video, state your name and affiliation. And we want your name in the Zoom meeting (?). Okay, so, I think the floor is yours.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Thank you. Thank you very much. I’m Olivier Crepin-Leblond. I’m with EuroDIG and chair of the UK chapter of the Internet Society. So, I’ll be moderating today’s meeting. We have an esteemed panel with panelists, both remote and local. Dr. Mohammed Shabbir is the co-moderator. We’ll hear from him in a moment. He is the Coordinator of the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability, DCAD. And then, we have speakers, starting from the remote part of the stable, Vilmantas Balcikonis.


>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Who is the Vice President of the Lithuanian Association of the Blind and partially sighted, over five years experience in the field of accessibility. And Vilmantas actively participants in various activities, accessibility-related events, and is well versed in the European Accessibility Act. In fact, he will be the person introducing us to this wonderful, to this act that’s on its way.

Lidia Best is supposed to join us remotely. I haven’t seen her yet. She’s the President of the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People. Indre Jurgelioniene, Chief Advisor at the Lithuanian Communications Regulatory Authority and Co-Chair of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications. Some of you might not know that. It’s actually BEREC. You probably will see BEREC. End-User Working Group, speaking from a government perspective but also as an end user.

And then, we have Giacomo Mazzone also joining us remotely, and he is with the EDMO Advisory Board and also a EuroDIG Board Member.

So, I think today’s discussion is, of course, going to focus to start with the European Accessibility Act, and then, what we’ll do is to have each one of our stakeholders come up with their points regarding that act and how we move forward. We’ll give them five minutes each. Then we’ll open a dialogue with the whole room. And hopefully, you will be able to participate, because this is European dialogue and Internet Governance. And then, 15 minutes before the end of this session, which is at quarter to the top of the hour, we will ask each one of our panelists for their closing statements, or perhaps, even next steps, if we’re able to find that. So, that’s how it is.

I hope I’m not speaking too quickly, because that’s my other problem. And I know that when meetings are transcribed, the poor transcriber is sometimes having a hard time with me. The rules, yes, please introduce yourself when you speak. And I think that I can now give the floor over to Dr. Mohammed Shabbir, who is joining us remotely, and he’s the Chair, of course, as I said, of DCAD. Over to you, Mohammed. And I hope the technology works well, and I’ll stop you if your voice is chopped up.

>> MOHAMMED SHABBIR: Hello, everyone, and good day from Pakistan. I am Mohammed Shabbir, and thank you, Olivier, for giving me the floor.

Before I talk about the DCAD, I would first want to wish a very happy (?) to shoes celebrating in Pakistan. Today is the eve day.

Well, coming to the topic of Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability is a set of (?) that aims to make the Internet and environment accessible to persons with disabilities. It has an open mailing list, Dynamic Coalitions are open to everyone who wishes to join. We envision a world, a digital environment, where every technology is available to everyone at the same time at no extra cost, particularly for persons with disabilities.

We often see in the environments, in the discussions, persons with disabilities neglected, left out. The Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability aims to bridge this gap and fulfill the need of bringing the voice of the people to the table.

Since 2009, Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability have been active in the IGF systems. We also have been participating in different NRIs. And last year, we started a fellowship program as well. In the upcoming weeks, also, to those who are the members of Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability and have lived experience of disability, you would be receiving information for the IGF DCAD, Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability Fellowship Program, or the IGF 2024 (?). We are about to launch this fellowship program. The uniqueness of this program is that we aim to bring people with disabilities in person, and we also aim to provide them with the facilities, if they want to attend remotely, the accessibility as they require. We do not fix any (?) onto the fellowship; we do not fix any requirements onto what can be provided. It’s the people, it’s the fellow who tells us the requirements, and within the meeting, within our budgets, which are, of course, limited, we try to fulfill their needs and their requirements.

EuroDIG, I am happy today that we are having this discussion in the EuroDIG, and particularly, we will be discussing the European Accessibility Act and how people with disabilities are feeling in digital environments in the European Union and in those environments. I stop here and thank you very much, Olivier. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today in this session.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Thank you very much, Mohammed. You’ve just forgotten one thing, which is, how does one join the Coalition?

>> MOHAMMED SHABBIR: Yes. Thank you very much, Olivier, for this question. It’s a very simple process. You just go on to There is a “Join” link. It is a very small, simple form. You join that, and you are subscribed, free of cost, to the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Fantastic! Thank you! Well, let’s now hear from our panelists. And the first person I mentioned was Vilmantas. And actually, we speak about accessibility. In a nutshell, what is accessibility? And then, I guess you can go from there in to explaining to us how that has been encompassed in a European act.

>> VILMANTAS BALCIKONIS: Okay. So, it’s, on one hand, it’s a simple question; on another hand, it is kind of a broad question, because we have a few disabilities and a few requirements, accessibility requirements. But in a nutshell, accessibility is freedom.

I have my colleague, which is blind, and she once wrote a nice Facebook post. She said, “When I had my first smartphone with text-to-speech, when we started working e-shops, finally, I could buy Christmas presents to my family without additional help.” So, these changes, this area – web accessibility, app accessibility, and so on – is profoundly important for people with disabilities because it gives freedom.

If it’s a document, and you can read it, but there’s no headings, it’s 200 pages long, you have to read from the start till the end. But if you have navigation capabilities, you have a lot of freedom to find information, to prepare, for example, for this meeting, for some lecture, and so on. So, in general, accessibility means accessing, freedom to access that information services and so on. And we can talk about Accessibility Act, how it introduces accessibility requirements in few areas: In products, in some products. These products usually are – not all products. It’s a bit a pity because there is no home appliances included, but there is included computers, smartphones, TVs, devices needed to access audiovisual media, ATMs, payment terminals, ticketing machines. And maybe I forgot someone, but those are main. And through these devices, we access the digital environment.

And talking about services, also, there is not all services included in the Accessibility Act, but certain services, but these are profoundly important. These services are e-shops, e-books, finance services for persons, and so on. So, this is kind of enough to make a huge difference. And I felt it myself, because last year, we, as our organization was chosen to communicate in Lithuania about the Accessibility Act and consult enterprises, private sector, about what is accessibility. So, we encountered big companies – telecommunication companies, small companies, shops, physical shops, e-shops, a huge variety of interest groups – and we gathered a lot of experience, a lot of questions, a lot of uncertainties, and we could speak about this now a lot because we have the experience.

But to finish up, I felt that with this European Accessibility Act, we have huge interest from companies, and it’s like impetus to work to this goal. Without this Accessibility Act, we would be stagnated and we would have more problems. Now I think the future is bright and we can think not only how to bring bread to our table, but also about those higher goals of accessibility, inclusion, and wider society.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Is Europe ready, all ready now, or there’s still much to do?

>> VILMANTAS BALCIKONIS: With accessibility, you can never say “ready.” We are starting. Europe started a few years ago with the public sector website accessibility, so we are starting not from zero. We have some standards. We have some good practices, and we are going forward. Of course, I felt a lot of fear, a lot of fear about huge costs, about lack of knowledge, lack of specialists, and so on. So, of course, we have a lot of problems. I could say it’s a start, and I would encourage everyone just to start from somewhere and build up from there.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Okay. Thank you very much, Vilmantas. Let’s go to our next panelist. Now, on our list, Lidia is supposed to be next, but I can’t see her at the moment on the list, so we’ll move straight over to our other remote panelist, and that’s Giacomo Mazzone. And Giacomo’s going to be speaking to us about the implementation of the Act, in journalism and in media. So, Giacomo, I hope you’re – we haven’t been able to test your mic, but I hope we can hear you. But it’s over to you, Giacomo Mazzone.

>> GIACOMO MAZZONE: I hope that it is fine, that you can hear me well.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: That is way better than yesterday, Giacomo. Well done!

>> GIACOMO MAZZONE: I told you that I would change my... So, thank you for inviting me. It is return to home because I was one of the participants of DCAD since the beginning of the IGF and also for many years I was within the identity you (?) group, just because for a long time I’ve been in charge of accessibility policies at the European Broadcasting Union.

For this characteristic, I think that my main contribution to debate of today is to talk about one recent study that is here, has been published by the European (?) in May, so just recently. The last data are from September last year. That is the Guide to Accessibility Measures all around the European Union and the Council of Europe, country members. Just because in the Accessibility Act that we are talking today has been anticipated in a certain way to 2018, the last revision of the Audiovisual Media Directive. This Audiovisual Service Media Directive is specific for broadcasting, TV and radio, and introduced already in its very first edition at the end of the ’80s some measures about accessibility. But in the revision of 2018 has been very precise and went more in depth.

So, this report of the European Audiovisual observatory has been focusing on the implementation of this directive, that is not as I said before, the Accessibility Act, but is a parallel directive, in all the Council of Europe country members. This report is very useful because it makes the point and shows that in the media sector, in the broadcasting, especially in television, all over Europe, there are levels, different levels, of course, of services for people with the problem of accessibility. And in this picture, the most interesting result is that we are seeing that this is moving progressively from the linear services also to the online services, because broadcasting is moving to the online, since already many years.

So, this move, this transition to the online has introduced many interesting, new possibilities. Because, for instance, many TV have introduced the sign languages activities in the online services, because they are easier to be provided than in the on-air services. There is also very interesting experiment that has been made that is currently conducted by RIDE, the (?) broadcaster, because they have automateized the sign language services, so there is a computer automatic originated avatar that is able to translate in real time what is said by the speaker into sign language. Unfortunately, this works only for the Italian sign language, but of course, it’s interesting that this kind of experiment is going on, and I think that the improvement of the artificial intelligence, we will see more and more of this type of thing.

So, I recommend you to go through this study, and when the discussion will go eventually country by country, we can see what is the current situation in each of these countries, from the legislative viewpoint.

There is another report that is not public that has been produced internally by the European Broadcasting Union. This is older, because it’s June ’22, so two years old. Ideally, it complements what is the audiovisual observatory study, because it says what each public service broadcaster in each country is doing concretely in all the various areas of activities. So, for instance, what is done in subtitling, what is done in audio description, in sign programs, and language of sign, et cetera, et cetera. Okay, I’ll stop here because I want to leave space for the debate later. Thank you.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Thank you, Giacomo. Olivier speaking. Just one question. The first report you spoke about, is that going to be done on a yearly basis? Will that be repeated to see the growth, or is that a one-off?

>> GIACOMO MAZZONE: The report is one-off, but I know that, internally, they collect the data because they are in contact with the sources. They collect data. So, I think that internally, they will continue to update. But the publishing, I think that they do only when needed. This time is the year where they start the reflection about the Audiovisual Media Service Directive to know if there is need for another revision, so I think that they published because of that. I will put in the chat the link to the study.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Fantastic! Thank you very much, Giacomo. So, now, next speaker we have is Indre, sitting next to me. And of course, we are in Lithuania, and the question is, what’s happening in Lithuania? How is the Act being carried into national legislation in Lithuania? And I guess, what does it mean for a person, for an end – I wouldn’t call it an end user, but for someone living in this country?

>> INDRE JURGELIONIENE: Thank you for the floor and possibility to share the national approach that Lithuania has taken to transpose European Accessibility Act. Actually, we had pretty hard discussions and debates how to implement the European Accessibility Act in the best way and most beneficial to end users.

We have to understand that the European Accessibility Act is not only about the accessibility; it’s also about the competition as well, basically setting the common rules for the stakeholders participating in one or another sector that is included in the Act, to be aware what are the common rules applicable and not to make additional barriers to the, basically, sector, product, or services they provide. Stemming from that, and given the holistic approach that is widely used among countries, we decided that we do not need supervision to allocate to a particular one authority. Mainly, it’s now become an integral part of the sector, meaning, for instance, if we are talking about ROT, we have capacity, and we are regulator of electronic communications services, which is a part of European Accessibility Act services. It covers, meaning that we are also supervision authority for electronic communication services. It is an integral part, of course, setting legislation is not enough.

The second part is capacity building, which was Vilmantas’ talk, was talking during his speech. We have to understand, what are the real outcomes of it? So, collaboration, established formally in our national legislation, and of course, some informal formats are essential to understand the usage, the real impact of the requirements it sets.

So, we have a lot of things to do internally, because we have to understand what we are supervising. Well, because, it’s not only the declaration and not only what it is on the paper; we want the actual use. And of course, the good work was done when we had the requirements set for public authorities. So, good examples are already set, so private sector can take a lot from there as well.

There are additional requirements that are also set in the Accessibility Act, as well as in the national law, establishing some particular technical requirements, which are, basically, the main concern, how to implement them on time, given that the standards are now being amended, which the stakeholders have to follow. A lot of concerns raised, because it is – we have one year until full implementation and coming into force of those requirements. And we are still, some maybe gap – maybe not gap, but still in clarity or not – we are not yet sure how the technical standards will be amended. So, but still, given that we have preparation on the technical level, that takes time, still stakeholders need to do and amend their networks accordingly, basically, ensuring realtime text, total conversations that are, basically, obliged by law, so a lot of things to do, a lot of things for the stakeholders to be aware of, and of course, a lot of capacity building for us as supervisors, to share best practices among supervision authorities. In Lithuania, we have four. So, a lot of complex things to cover. But stemming from holistic approach and engagement from governmental as well as non-governmental sector, we hope that – well, this time should be dedicated for that.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Where do you start? Is there any priority that you should start with? Any field that requires accessibility more than others?

>> INDRE JURGELIONIENE: Well, as we are electronic communication regulator, and now, electronic communication sector is key in various aspects and various sectors, because without connection, you are basically excluded from all the environment. So, these technical feasibilities requiring can oblige in realtime text, from my point of view should be the focus for the stakeholders and for everyone, especially given that realtime text is also the one ensuring accessibility to 1-1-2, which is essential in cases of emergency.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Okay, and that works also, I guess, with websites, website accessibility.

>> INDRE JURGELIONIENE: Yes. Website – actually, some of – we have a few stakeholders who are achievers in that, who are actually a bit ahead. Even the requirements are not fully come into force. They are doing progress, and they are consulting and they are seeking for solutions to implement in a proper way their websites, at least. But, of course, we have more than 100 stakeholders which play and are engaged in electronic communications sector. So, they should be concerned, and they should start doing actual preparatory activities related to proper implementation of accessibility requirements.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: In fact, Vilmantas, in a nutshell, what is website accessibility? I’m asking, in a nutshell! You’ve got in one minute.

>> VILMANTAS BALCIKONIS: Okay, one minute. There is two, or few – three main things. One is visibility – to be perceivable by vision, and that also affects those who have mental disabilities or some cognitive difficulties, reading difficulties, and so on. So, we have to make our website as visible as possible. That’s good contrast, good fonts, good layout, and so on.

And second part is not so intuitive. It’s prepare website for technologies that blind, for example, use; that people that control website with some additional keyboards, buttons, and without hands, with eyes, and so on. So, that is not so intuitive because it’s programming. Those technologies access code, and if that code is incorrect, not according to standards, the website could be not useable. So, this part is about good coding practices and implementing accessibility, if website is very difficult, big system with a lot of functionalities.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: By “usable,” you mean the machine will basically say, “sorry, I can’t read this”? Or will it just come up with rubbish?

>> VILMANTAS BALCIKONIS: It could be either way. But simple example is, you have a good website, you have an e-shop, you want to sell a lot of products, and so on. A person gathers in his basket a lot of products. He wants to spend a lot of money. He wants to check out, and he has to check the box “I agree with the terms and services” and so on. And you can’t, for example, because of bad programming, you can’t do this only with keyboard, you have to do it with a mouse.


>> VILMANTAS BALCIKONIS: Some loop, some mistake in programming. And everything is in vain. The person that uses this aids technology will not buy and will not spend those hundreds or thousands of euros. It’s one of the examples, and there is a lot of – we could share a lot of examples. About menus, how they are expanded, not expanded, and so on. So, there are particularities and specific knowledge about this.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: It’s an excellent example. Money always speaks. Right. I can’t see Lidia online, so I think that what we can do, then, is to open the floor up for questions. Perhaps I should first ask, before I open the floor for everyone to ask questions – and I hope there are going to be some questions – this is a dialogue. Or even some comments on what you’ve heard so far. I could ask, maybe, Mohammed if you have any specific comments and questions on what you’ve heard so far. Mohammed Shabbir.

>> MOHAMMED SHABBIR: Yes, thank you, everyone, for your thought-provoking insights and interventions. My question is one, but it is not specifically addressed to anyone. Anyone who has the information can answer to this question.

More often than not, we see good words written on the paper, but when it comes to actions, there are still some gaps. So, how do you see this accessibility, European Accessibility Act failing in terms of implementation?

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Who wants to answer that?



>> VILMANTAS BALCIKONIS: Because as I said, we encountered a lot of interest groups, those who will have to implement this act. And bigger companies have resources, and they allocate one person. Maybe they call it diversity specialist, or in other way. And they try to gather information. They consult lawyers. They consult us. They try to raise awareness internally and so on.

So, I had a nice, really good experience with some companies, and of course, there were others that we called and we said, we have a nice event, where we explain what is accessibility, and it’s good for you. We explain European Accessibility Act, and they say, “Oh, no, Christmas is coming. We have rush in our service. We don’t have time. We are collecting money from customers” and so on. So, of course. But I think it’s really nice to – because we are not the United States. We don’t have this tradition of suing companies and so on. But this act foresees a kind of also punishment if the company does not comply to it and doesn’t fix issues. So, I think it’s a really good tool. We have to work together. We as NGO, governmental organizations. And somehow, we’ll go forward.

And I think after some time, it would be bad manners not to adhere to accessibility requirements. But for now, for me, I think – sorry to take so much floor – but for me, it’s really interesting. For example, as you said, audiovisual media. And these questions about the scope of accessibility, what it is. Because, of course, we want that everything would be captioned, that everything would be with sign language, that everything would be with audio description, but I think European Accessibility Act does not imply that everything should be. There are infrastructural, I could say, requirements, that if a movie is with audio description and you put it online in your service, where you can access television and so on. So, a blind person could have a possibility to turn on that description, because for now, maybe some platforms don’t have this possibility. For example, to access program on TV and to read what is the next program after an hour, what movie is coming. So, these are infrastructural and maybe not so scary for – in my opinion, you will not need to make everything in audio or in sign language or – of course, it’s preferable. We have other laws that asks to do some percentage of media accessible in this way, but European Accessibility Act, I think, has a bit less requirements, in my opinion, but I am not a lawyer. It’s not – that’s a disclaimer.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Okay. Well, we have a hand up from a remote participant. Of course, if you wish to ask a question – it’s you! Okay. Right. Sorry. I was – all right! Well, excellent. Andre Melancia.

>> Andre MELANCIA: Thank you. It is very difficult, because now we are at different sites, personal and remote. And the possibility of using EuroDIG remotely this year, as previous years since the pandemic, has actually helped in terms of disabilities. So, you actually make a good point. So, I am physically here, but maybe you saw me raise my hand, just in case, there. So, it is a brand-new world. Now, I wanted to bring up a few things. So, you mentioned websites. This is a very important point of websites, because since the last 20 years, something like that, my government in Portugal has actually forced the adoption of accessible websites. At the time with WCAG 1 and then 2 –

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: A bit louder or perhaps come closer to the stage. We were just told, “Use a mic.” We don’t have actual mics. We have these systems.

>> Andre MELANCIA: The question is, the governments since the last 20 years, both in Portugal and in other countries, have actually adopted a logic where you are supposed to have accessible websites, at least for public services. And of course, that encourages private websites to do the same. Now, this is a matter of shaming, if you can, to say, “Oh, your website is not accessible, so you should really force the website to be accessible,” if it is an eCommerce shop. For example, the CAPTCHA things are hard if you don’t have a mouse, so these things come into play when talking about that.

And for accessibility in general, for instance, anybody who is remotely will not be here to see it, but we can definitely see that if we go outside, there is accessibility. We don’t even notice – I actually had to go out to go down to have a look, because I went up and I thought, “Oh, I didn’t see a lift. I didn’t see anything that would help someone get up here.” But in reality, next to the stairs, there is that, you know, thick that goes up. I’m not sure what the technical name of that thing is. But I was kind of hoping for a lift or something like that. Now, that is a work-around, and we distinguish the two, right? We need to distinguish the ones that are made from scratch in a building and the ones that are work-arounds. I’m still happy with the work-around. This is okay. It’s better than having nothing.

If you go to different rooms, for instance, at the very beginning of the building, when YouthDIG was happening, the room was very ups and downs, but they did guarantee all the accessibility there. So that room was built, rebuilt from scratch and guaranteed all of that. So, in terms of all of these accessibility issues, it is important to add it.

I want to add one more thing. So, tomorrow, we’ll have a different session on accessibility, but focusing on the technical aspects and the few examples of technology that can actually help with this. Today, it’s more of a focus on the legal aspects, but I want to invite everyone who’s interested in this topic to join us tomorrow to talk about technical things.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: So, Andre, you’re mentioning technical stuff, software and so on, and hardware, that can be added to already existing software and equipment and make it accessible.

>> Andre: Like having a computer, you can have subtitles automatically and don’t need to buy something extra. You can enable a feature and that works for subtitles, videos coming in from YouTube and et cetera. The actual computer can do all this. At the same time, you have technology like Zoom and Teams that automatically generates all of the subtitles for you. But there are technologies that are available for every different kind of disability. So, you name the disability, someone has come up with a solution for that. The biggest problem is that people are not aware that these technologies exist, and therefore, they do not use them.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Cool! We look forward to the session tomorrow. Okay, any other comments and questions? Please, go ahead. And please, introduce yourself as you speak.

>> AUDIENCE: Hello, everyone. (Off microphone) sometimes (?) instead of being accessible –

>> I’m sorry, apparently they’re not hearing you online. Can you maybe come to the front?

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Sorry about this.

>> I can walk.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: It looks as though we’ve got a speaker spot over here and the camera’s wide enough, so this is great.

>> AUDIENCE: Okay, I trust you can hear me now? So –


>> AUDIENCE: So, I’m from Finland and I want to raise a practical concern with the Accessibility Act that I’ve seen happen a few times, that some services, instead of being accessible, are simply dropped altogether, blaming costs or whatever. Notably, recordings of sessions like this. We have video left online. Instead of making subtitles, so whatever, it’s simply scrubbed altogether. I’m not sure this is a (?) problem or actual cost, which is usually cited. So, maybe something should be done about that, public funding or whatever, but I’m not sure. But anyway, that’s a problem, I see it, and I think it should be addressed. Thank you.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Okay, thank you. Indre?

>> INDRE JURGELIONIENE: I can maybe take that. I think a good point raised about the administrative or financial burdens. From my point of view, we should talk about changing the mindset. If we are talking about the accessibility, as opening the possibilities to the clients and to the people you are engaged to, it opens opportunities. And if it is becoming a part of know your client aspects – because for instance, considering Lithuania, we have 200,000 confirmed impairments, more, even. And if we are considering those temporary ones, for instance, now me, I am recovering from ankle fracture, so I am not confirmed impairment, but temporary. I face some challenges with digital and/or infrastructural inclusion. And if we change the mindset of stakeholders we are supervising that, for instance, do they want those 200,000 people, be them clients, so then they should do everything to make those clients come to you. So, it should be not a threatening approach that, you will be fined if you are not following the rules, but it should be, well, fancy, or how to say it?

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Vilmantas used the word “punished” earlier. Maybe not punished. I think enforcement is what we’re looking at, but it’s more of an enticement to do it.

>> INDRE JURGELIONIENE: Yes, yes. We have to see that being and showing respect to disabled people, even if we are considering the name of the act. It’s not the Disability Act, it’s Accessibility Act. It’s vice versa. It’s opening opportunities and not solving problems. Because if we are talking about the disability, we are somehow solving problems. When we are addressing issues as accessibility issues, we are opening opportunities. So, if we change our mindset about the opening opportunities, we then, I believe that those financial burdens would go to the second place and the client, as the key enabler of all the system, all the sector, would come first.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Thank you. Giacomo Mazzone, over to you.

>> GIACOMO MAZZONE: Thank you. I think that we are talking of financial problems, and this is one of the real issues for the broadcasting sector. The regulation is asking more and more to deliver accessible services and to extend, for instance, the number of the programs, the number of hours, the extent to live, and that is, of course, more costly than recorded program. And on the other side, in the statistics provided by the survey that I was mentioning to you before, all the broadcasters, especially public service broadcast service, have been subject to budget cuts. More or less, they have lost between 2019 and 2022, we have lost 15% of the budget, all in all, around Europe.

And the good indicator is that, despite these budget cuts, in the same time, the money spent for accessibility services remains stable, even as increase of 1%. But when you are director of a public service broadcaster and you have to decide what to do, where to cut, et cetera, et cetera, you can understand that it is very difficult, you imagine, to extend the services.

So, I think there are two things that need to be done. One is that an alliance between the association that are representing the people with impairment and the public service broadcaster, in order to be sure that the budget cuts are not affecting these services – on the contrary, to improve more the services.

The second thing is that there is an interesting perspective that is the one that I was mentioning before and that I put an example in the chat, is to use new technologies, and especially artificial intelligence, to try to increase the quality and the number and the extension of these services to all of the programming, all of the offer of the broadcasters. This is possible. And of course, as you know, you need to invest first, in order to get services after. So, there is a crunch in the contradiction. You need more resources, at least at the beginning, in order to improve the services before this will bring to savings. So, I think it’s a battle of civilization, but we need all to play together. Thank you.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Thank you very much, Giacomo. We’ll have a lady in the room here, and then I’ve just noticed Lidia Best has arrived, so we’ll get Lidia to also say. It throws a Spanier into our well clogged-up machine, but there you go. Let’s go for you, please, and introduce yourself, please.

>> AUDIENCE: Hello, I’m (?) from university. I teach entrepreneurship and business models and – power to change the mindset. So, my question is how we can better engage in the dialogue with the government officials and higher education institutions, in order to have this dialogue and understanding and needed competencies for us as educators, more accessible.

>> VILMANTAS BALCIKONIS: So, the question was how formal education institutions can have a dialogue, engage into the dialogue with public institutions and to know what competencies are required. Good question. We have asked for universities, for education, Ministry of Education, for a long time to include accessibility to those specialties, computer science, designers, and so on, but universities have huge autonomy, and it’s difficult to put rules to them.

So, I would suggest, maybe if there is initiative from your side, to just gather interest groups and talk about it. We as NGOs are always ready to put our agenda and experience and suggest, and I think public institutions also could join.

>> INDRE JURGELIONIENE: On behalf of BEREC, I can also share, for instance, we have periodical events that we gather on various topics, and we also want to engage participants from various perspectives, from end users, from stakeholders, from regulators, from academia as well. Why not? Research academy and so on. For instance, we had the workshop that was held in April. We also had dedicated session for the accessibility, and we had engagement from various contributors. So, if you are willing, just, there are always announcements provided publicly. Follow. And I suppose we can also benefit from networking, where people know that, for instance, you or your colleagues are engaged. And we have a list later on to approach people to participate and share your views. So, open possibilities from my point of view.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Thanks for this, Indre. We actually do have Lidia Best now, the President of the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People. I hope that you are able to speak, Lidia. Welcome. There might have been a problem with the timing, but over to you.

>> LIDIA BEST: Okay. Thank you so much. Everybody hear me?


>> LIDIA BEST: Okay, perfect. Wonderful. I really sincerely apologize. It’s the timing, European and UK, and I just got it wrong. I really apologize. But I’m very pleased to chime in at the last minute and to bring the hard of hearing perspective when we discuss the digital accessibility. I very much welcome to see BEREC actively participating here and discussing this as well.

Two major big issues for hard of hearing people, which we see across the European Union are access to information. So, we know that, in general, broadcasters, even public broadcasters, let alone private, do not always provide access via subtitling or captioning, in American terms, and that is causing a lot of problems for our members who are excluded from actively participating in all of the different parts of cultural and political and social life, when it comes to broadcasting.

In the same way, when it comes to the streaming services, they are also not fully accessible to hard of hearing people.

Lastly, the telephony. As we have seen during the pandemic, lots of things in the way services are running, especially public services, have changed; the behaviors have changed. No longer could come in person to sort your issues, whatever you had; you had to use the telephone, and many hard of hearing people, deafened people who lose their hearing suddenly later in life, struggle with being able to actually get their issues, whatever they need, solved over the phone, because they cannot hear very well. Just because we show, as we are hearing okay with hearing aids or cochlear implants/processors, it does not mean that we actually understand very well. It’s very easy to think that technology resolves all the issues when it comes to assistive technology. It does help enormously, but we need, in addition, assistive services, inclusive services, when we can actually contact anyone on our own terms, and that means that the public services in general are still not available to us. Thank you.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Thank you very much for your intervention and for taking part. You’ve seen some of the discussions here. Do you have any comments on what’s been said today?

>> LIDIA BEST: Can you give me a clue?

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Oh! Well, on the various discussions –

>> LIDIA BEST: Because I joined late.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Some of the points that were made is that there should be enforcement of the Act, now that it is being rolled out, and somehow, of course, the big firms have the money, but others might not. So, how can this be handled?

>> LIDIA BEST: Yes. I fully agree, and I know what I’ve been hearing also from the European Accessibility Summit in June. Was it in June? Yeah, it was beginning of June. And the European Accessibility Act does not seem to be ready. I mean, the countries are not ready for the European Accessibility Act. And that is a problem.

The problem is also, it is because this is a directive, in fact. And the similar problem was the issue – and continues to be an issue – with audiovisual media services directive, which is obviously addressing with Article 7 the broadcasting access.

Now, from what I have seen – and we have seen across Europe – is, but unfortunately, countries decide, pick and choose what they use from those directives, that they might fully implement, or regulators. And we have seen, especially when it comes to audiovisual media services, it’s such a big disparity between countries where they are more accessible to hard of hearing people and nearly not accessible with subtitling.

On top of that, there is also a lack of quality control. So, it’s fine, but some broadcasters, for example, think, let’s bring automatic captioning, just completely automatic, and we can tick the box. We’ve done the accessibility. Except it’s not accurate. So, you haven’t actually provided accessibility because it’s not useable. It still has to be a minimum quality for the user experience.

In addition, yes, we need the monitoring. And one of those of our association is to monitor user’s experience. That’s what we can do, and pass it on to the European Commission and decision-makers, and keep pushing. But yes, monitoring is number one. Thank you.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Thanks very much, Lidia. We were going to give 15 minutes to panelists to talk about the next steps. Because we’re generous, we’ll probably make it 30 seconds. But let’s have Dr. Shabbir. Mohammed, over to you. And, hopefully, the boss in the room, will give us a little bit more time.

>> I will try to do my best with time.

>> MOHAMMED SHABBIR: Thank you very much. This is Mohammed Shabbir, for the record. I know that we are at the top of the hour and we have to finish this session. Thank you very much for joining this session. The only concluding statement that I would say is, I know that money is the problem, and big firms do have the money, but sometimes, it comes down the question of willingness, whether they want to spend or not.

At the same time, when it comes to accessibility, money could be a problem. I know it’s a big problem, but it should not be – it should not come in the way of accessibility. It should not be made an excuse. Companies, businesses do invest in there. And there, I disagree with an earlier point that it should not be punishment when it comes to the enforcement of European Accessibility Act. Sometimes, carrot is good. People do accept that. But sometimes, accessibility requirements stick as well. So, punishment factor is really crucial when it comes to implementation of those kinds of accessibility acts. Thank you very much.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Thank you very much, Mohammed. And as technology becomes cheaper, I hope that the money problem will be something that will be a thing of the past. Giacomo Mazzone. And if you want us to listen to you, you have to unmute. Yep.

>> GIACOMO MAZZONE: Yep. So, I think that, yes, the main problem of the resources, as has been said, and I think that there are ways that could be explored. I’ll just mention, for instance, in the chat that in some areas of the world, they are asking the platform to contribute to the healthy view of the media system. For instance, in Australia, as you know, the platform have to contribute to finance the newspapers. In Canada, they recently asked for the Internet platform to contribute to the broadcasting platforms and so on. So, I think we need to explore for additional resources, way of funding, and this has to come from where the money has gone all around this year, so we know where it is. Thank you.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Thank you, Giacomo. Indre?

>> INDRE JURGELIONIENE: Well, what comes to my mind and what is a possible call for action is, you should not wait. The deadline, which is the next year’s June. Start doing now and learning by doing now, when you have a possibility to implement the accessibility requirements in the best way for the end users. And then, the fine wouldn’t be a solution for you because you will make everything well because, well, prepare in advance and know your customer in advance will fit you well.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: That should be something we should all follow. If you’re going to do something, do it now.

>> INDRE JURGELIONIENE: Yeah, or yesterday.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Or yesterday! Vilmantas?

>> VILMANTAS BALCIKONIS: So, for now, we don’t have leadership from European Commission to making some common practices, common standards. So, I really would encourage dialogue between European countries in advance and share good practices and establish common practices. And read carefully – encourage to read carefully the European Accessibility Act, because as I said, we wish a lot of things. Some things, we put it because we want, but maybe it’s in some areas, it’s a bit easier to implement than we think. Maybe we want too much from Accessibility Act, and some words are not there. So, I just would encourage to read carefully.

And of course, we need common practice, because to invent everything from zero, it’s difficult.

>> INDRE JURGELIONIENE: And BEREC is also putting this focus on the next year’s agenda, and we have also topics dedicated to the accessibility and measures related to that for the next year’s program.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Good! And timely. Lidia.

>> LIDIA BEST: Thank you very much. So, just quickly to say, when it comes to the digital access and the streaming platforms, especially, we are all consumers. We all pay the subscription fees to access those platforms. I cannot understand why this is so difficult for those giant platforms – I’m not going to drop names – to actually invest in accessibility features, such as subtitling, because it should be part of a business profile, like it is in other countries, like it is in the United States. Thank you.

>> OLIVIER CREPIN-LEBLOND: Thank you very much, Lidia. And that really is, unfortunately, the end of our session before we get shot. So – no? Okay, good. We’re still in good terms. Thank you so much. Thanks to everyone who has attended. Thanks to our panelists, of course, for their wisdom and their points they have made. And there is a session, as you said, tomorrow, 3:00. Tomorrow at 3:00 for the technology behind all of that. So, it’s somewhere in this building, hopefully. Thank you so much, everyone!


>> MOHAMMED SHABBIR: Thank you and bye.