A new important step towards accessibility in the ICT domain: CEN, CENELEC and ETSI establish Joint Working Group on eAccessibility

Sophia Antipolis, France (24 February 2011)

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes the basic rights of disabled and older persons and the need to remove any barriers that "may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others". The European Commission (EC) has provided European support to these fundamental rights by issuing in 2005 the standardization Mandate M/376 on ‘Support of European accessibility requirements for public procurement of products and services in the ICT domain'. The aim of this mandate was to raise awareness of accessibility in the European market and public organizations while fostering interoperability and harmonization at EU level.

The three European Standards Organizations (ESOs), CEN (the European Committee for Standardization), CENELEC (the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization) and ETSI (The European Telecommunications Standards Institute), have reacted to phase 2 of this Mandate by establishing a Joint Working Group (JWG) on "eAccessibility" to provide a unified response. During Phase I of Mandate M/376, which finished in 2009, national procurement authorities acknowledged that they lacked the specialist human factors knowledge necessary to include accessibility requirements in invitations to tender for the public procurement of ICT products and services.
In order to tackle this issue, standardization work during Phase 2 of M/376 will have an objective to fill in the identified gaps with a set of functional accessibility requirements. The expected outcome of this work is a new European Standard (EN) that will include the functional accessibility requirements applicable to all ICT products and services, intended to be used for conformity assessment in procurement processes, as well as the development of an electronic toolkit enabling procurers to make use of those harmonized requirements in a procurement process.

The JWG appointed Dr. Matthias SCHNEIDER (NOKIA), representing ETSI, as Chairman of the group, with Mrs Cristina RODRÍGUEZ-PORRERO (Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Affairs and Equality) and Mr Óscar QUEROL (AFME), representing CEN and CENELEC respectively, as Vice-Chairmen. The secretariat is held by AENOR, the Spanish Association for Standardization and Certification.

Participants of this JWG include national members from CEN and CENELEC, and ETSI members. The European Commission and the European Free Trade Association may also participate.  It is foreseen that other stakeholders will be invited to contribute, including representatives of the community of disabled people (e.g. the European Disability Forum and other stakeholders such as ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardization, etc.), as well as international standards organizations and organizations representing other regions of the world.

An ETSI Specialist Task Force (STF) and a CEN Project Team (PT) will develop the deliverables of the Mandate.
The kick-off meeting of the JWG on eAccessibility took place on 15 February 2011 in the CEN-CENELEC Meeting Centre in Brussels. The next meeting is scheduled for 23 June 2011 and will be hosted at the CEN-CENELEC Management Centre in Brussels.

– ENDS –

Secretariat of JWG eAccessibility
AENOR
Ms Tania MARCOS
Tel: +34 91 432 60 56
E-mail: accessibility@aenor.es

Media Contacts:
CEN and CENELEC
Celine Oeyen
Manager Communication
Tel. +32 2 519 68 85
E-mail: coeyen@cencenelec.eu

ETSI
Paul Reid
Communications & Events
Tel: +33 4 92  94 42 19
E-mail: paul.reid@etsi.org

ABOUT CEN
The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) is a business catalyst in Europe, removing trade barriers for European stakeholders such as industry, public administration, service providers, consumers and other stakeholders. Its mission is to foster the European economy in global trading, the welfare of European citizens, and the environment. Through its services CEN provides a platform for the development of European Standards and other specifications.
CEN's 31 National Members work together to develop voluntary European Standards (ENs) in various sectors to build a European Internal Market for goods and services and to position Europe in the global economy. By supporting research, and helping disseminate innovation, standards are a powerful tool for economic growth. More than 60.000 technical experts as well as business federations, consumer and other societal interest organizations are involved in the CEN network that reaches over 480 million people.
For further information, please visit: http://www.cen.eu/

ABOUT CENELEC 
The European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization is officially responsible for standardization in the electrotechnical field. In an ever more global economy, CENELEC fosters innovation and competitiveness, making technology available not only to major businesses but also to SMEs through the production of voluntary standards. CENELEC creates market access at the European level but also at the international level through its cooperation agreement with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
Through the work of its 31 Members together with its experts, the industry federations and consumers, Electrotechnical European Standards are created in order to help shape the European Internal Market, to encourage technological development, to ensure interoperability and to guarantee the safety and health of consumers and provide environmental protection.
Detailed information available at http://www.cenelec.eu/

ABOUT ETSI
ETSI produces globally-applicable standards for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), including fixed, mobile, radio, converged, aeronautical, broadcast and internet technologies and is officially recognized by the European Union as a European Standards Organization.  ETSI is an independent, not-for-profit association whose 700+ member companies and organizations, drawn from 62 countries across 5 continents worldwide, determine the ETSI work programme and participate directly in its work. 
For further information, please visit www.etsi.org