In a win for people with disabilities and older adults worldwide, the European Union (EU) has passed the European Accessibility Act (EAA) Law, requiring businesses to comply with the European Accessibility Act by the year 2025. This law will ensure that newly marketed products and services in the EU deemed necessary for people with disabilities adhere to specific accessibility standards.
While 2025 may feel a long way off, companies and manufacturers of products in the EU need to begin to plan, develop, and test their products in anticipation of meeting these requirements. Companies outside the EU are also subject to the mandate—their products must conform to those same accessibility guidelines and standards if they hope to trade easily within the EU.
Conducting user experience (UX) research enables manufacturers to both evaluate accessibility issues in existing products and identify necessary developments for future iterations as the EAA law comes into effect. This might involve conducting an accessibility audit to identify and provide potential solutions for accessibility issues early on, or alternatively, using a more in-depth method like a diary study with populations with disabilities to see how they experience a product and what struggles they face during use.
What products and services are affected by the European Accessibility Act Law?
This law concerns the following everyday product and services:
- TV equipment related to digital television services
- Telephony services and related equipment
- Computers and operating systems
- ATMs, ticketing and check-in machines
- Access to audio-visual media services
- Services related to air, bus, rale and waterborne passenger transport
- Banking services
Why accessibility is essential for your product or service
In Europe alone, at least 87 million people have a disability, and according to the World Health Organization, the number is estimated to be 1.3 billion people worldwide. This excludes people with short-term and situational disabilities, e.g., impairment from medical treatment, hand injuries, etc.; therefore, the percentage of people experiencing disability at any given time is measurably higher.
There are two driving forces encouraging European companies and manufacturers to improve accessibility of their products and services:
Regulations for Accessibility
- Trading: Due to the EAA Law, following accessibility guidelines in product design will make cross-border trading of that product in the EU more accessible.
- Avoiding fines: Outside of the new EU laws,
Benefits of accessible design:
Creating accessible products and services has many other benefits, including:
- Driving innovation: Customers will benefit from broader, more socially inclusive products designed for elderly populations or people with disabilities in mind.
- Increasing customer base: Your products and services will be valuable and useable for all users, regardless of their disability. In turn, this can increase market reach, revenue and retention rates.
- Improving customer experience: Accessibility attracts more customers and helps create a stronger emotional bond between users and the brand.
- Normalise accessible design: Normalising accessible products and services will save and increase a company’s revenue in the long run, especially if embedded from the start and throughout the design process.
Developing accessible products requires UX research
Well-informed product design champions accessibility and ensures that the product or service accessible to all users, including populations with disabilities and elderly people. But truly accessibly design can’t be easily achieved without listening to those users and gaining their feedback. Conducting UX research with these populations throughout the stages of product design is crucial to evaluating its success in reaching and meeting the needs of those audiences. To discover how good UX Research can help put you on the accessibility map, read our blog today.
At Bold Insight, our UX research informs design strategies and decisions made at every step of the way. Our service offerings range from global, mixed-method studies to accessibility-focused UX reviews that focus on how well digital health interfaces align with accessibility best practices, taking the WCAG and EAA recommendations into account. Contact us today if you’re interested in us running a research session or want to learn more.