IMPACT project: Training in inclusion and digital accessibility, a social need and a human right


Digital Accessibility, Accessibility Standards, Web Accessibility Directive, EN301549, WCAG

1. Problem Addressed

The adoption of policies and laws at international, European and national levels has placed accessibility at the forefront, requiring the countries of the European Union to ensure that any user can access and interact with any software, web content, documents and hardware regardless of their capabilities. As stated by the United Nations Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), accessibility is a right to equal opportunities for all citizens.

In 2010, the UNCRPD was ratified by the European Union and the EU Member States and consequently a solid legislative framework for improving the situation of people with disabilities was created. At the legislative level there are three key directives that regulate accessibility in the European Union: the Web Accessibility Directive (2016), the updated Audiovisual Communication Services Directive (2018) and the European Accessibility Act (2019). The standardisation agencies of each Member State must adapt their laws to transpose this legislative framework in their countries, in order to ensure access to media and digital content for all citizens.

In 2015, a UN committee conducted its first review of how the EU complies with the UNCRPD. The Committee noted that the EU institutions needed to make more efforts to fulfill their commitment to make communication accessible to people with disabilities. In a decision of the European Ombudsman (Strategic Survey OI /June 2017 6/2017 /EA) on how the European Commission ensures that people with disabilities can access its websites from December 2018, clearly states that there is a need for Mandatory accessibility training for all staff working on websites. Hence the creation of the IMPACT project.

2. Relevant background

The IMPACT project (Inclusive Method based on the Perception of Accessibility and Compliance Testing), aims to define the skills and competencies that an educator or mediator in ICT accessibility should acquire and master, for the correct implementation of the harmonized European accessibility standard digital EN 301 549.

It is a strategic partnership bringing together parties from different fields dealing with innovation in higher education, with the main aim of designing, testing and certifying a modular curriculum in digital accessibility for vocational and academic training that meets the needs of the labor market and society.

The IMPACT project training will prepare for three different work environments: face-to-face, online and relay. This opens up new employment opportunities for people with and without disabilities. The main objectives of the IMPACT project are to:

3. Challenges

The recent adoption and entry into force of these legislative framework has highlighted the scarce training in digital accessibility outside of the technological field (Oncins et al., 2020). Hence, there is a need to provide training in digital accessibility with a more empathetic driven perspective.

In 2019 the European Disability Forum (EDF) conducted a survey on “Web Accessibility Directive transposition and implementation” with the objective of measuring awareness regarding: Transposition, Implementation, Accessibility statement, Feedback and enforcement mechanisms. The reported results stated that 42% of users are not (very) satisfied with the “Web Accessibility Directive transposition and implementation” and the majority of new websites (80%) are found not accessible. Hence, there is a need to improve training on digital accessibility in general.

In 2019, during the a first stage of the IMPACT project a survey was conducted and it was reported that while most participants are familiar or very familiar with the European Web Accessibility Directive and the international standard WCAG 2.0/2.1., the Standard EN301549 which actually helps and guides organisations to be accessible remains largely unknown. Hence there is a need to developing specific training for the correct implementation of the European standard EN30149.

4. Outcomes

The IMPACT project survey included the following four proposed competences to be validated by participants: 1) Understanding digital accessibility, 2) Digital Accessibility context and digital accessibility services, 3) Implementing Digital accessibility and 4) Digital accessibility promotion. The results obtained reported that all competences are very important or important. The competence with the highest score was ‘implementing digital accessibility’, followed by ‘understanding digital accessibility’ and ‘digital accessibility promotion’, and finally ‘digital accessibility context and digital accessibility services’.

In a second stage of the project a modular curriculum was created inline with the ECQA guidelines, which is the IMPACT partner for the job certification. It was validated with five focus groups that were conducted in three different countries (France, Ireland and Spain). An overview of the course curriculum is described below:

Unit 1 Understanding digital accessibility:

Unit 2 Digital accessibility context and digital accessibility services

Unit 3 Implementing digital accessibility

Unit 4 Digital accessibility promotion

5. Future perspectives

The IMPACT project partners are currently creating four different types of course materials for the course: video lectures, workshops, study cases and quizzes, which will be part of the IMPACT course.


This work has been partially funded by ERASMUS+ IMPACT 2019-1-FR01- KA204-062381 and 2017SGR113.


  1. Proceedings: E. Oncins, F. Fitzpatrick, A. Altinier (2020). Mapping The European Digital Accessibility Field: The IMPACT Project. In 9th International Conference on Software Development and Technologies for Enhancing Accessibility and Fighting Info-exclusion (DSAI 2020). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 33–37. DOI:10.1145/3439231.3440608