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This section includes resources dealing with legal issues and disabilities in the European Union. It is divided into sections and these resources may appear in more than one place. The information will include papers, case law, and various European Union policies that cover people with disabilities. If you know of laws or resources on the Internet that deal with this subject, please contact us, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The implication of the Lisbon conclusions is that eEurope should extend the focus of its eParticipation action. Action in this area will contribute to the new Community initiative to promote social inclusion, also called for by the Lisbon European Council. The key issues were debated extensively in the recent ministerial conference in Lisbon.
As government services and important public information become increasingly available on-line, ensuring access to government websites for all citizens becomes as important as ensuring access to public buildings. In the context of citizens with special needs, the challenge consists of ensuring the widest possible accessibility to information technologies in general as well as their compatibility with assistive technologies. In addition, new technologies can often be easier for everyone to use if the usability requirements of all potential consumers are considered from the beginning of the design process.
The eEurope response
Efforts will be required to address the problems of those who fail to fully benefit from the information society for various reasons, such as poverty or lack of awareness and training. Measures against info-exclusion need to be given a high political priority if the eEurope objective of an ‘Information Society for all’ is to be achieved.
In relation to the specific area of access for people with special needs, the High Level Group on the Employment and Social Dimension of the Information Society (ESDIS), in co-operation with the Commission will examine and monitor legislation and standards relevant to the information society to ensure their conformity with accessibility principles.
Public sector web sites and their content in Member States and in the European Institutions must be designed to be accessible to ensure that citizens with disabilities can access information and take full advantage of the potential for e-government.
In relation to 'designing-in' accessibility to all information society technologies, training for designers in this area is relatively new and therefore fragmented across Europe. There remains much scope for mutual learning between centres of excellence to build a co-ordinated and high quality approach.
On the 10th and 11th April 2000, there was a special session of the European Ministerial Conference on Knowledge and Information Society in the Congress Center of Lisbon, Portugal. This session address issues of Citizens with Special Needs in the information Society. It is a collection of papers and presentations that give an excellent perspective on this subject from the view of the members of the European Union. It can be found at: http://www.acessibilidade.net/april2000/
Draft Petition for Web Accessibility offered to European Union
Francisco Godinho of PASIG has offered a draft petition for web accessibility within the European Union with a request for comments at: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/1999OctDec/0766.html .
The main purpose of this petition is quoted from the above URL below:
"eEurope - An Information Society for All", which propose: "By the end of 2001: The European Commission and Member States should commit themselves to making the design and content of all public Web sites accessible to people with disabilities."
A mailing list to discuss the European issues has been started. It was launched on December 27 of 1999. This is an active, ongoing discussion dealing with Internet Accessibility Issues in a European context.
The list and all of its postings can be found at: http://www.egroups.com/group/eeurope-pwd/ . Many of the problems discussed are not directly web related but nonetheless it offers people an opportunity to discuss the problems people with disabilities are facing in Europe.
This project addresses good practices within the Information Society to
address the needs of older people and people with disabilities in Europe.
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