On sept 19, 2023 I gave an insight into the state of digital accessibility in The Netherlands. Here’s a summary of this presentation.
Law and order
Since 2008 there has been a non-binding agreement between public organisations to be digitally accessible. As a foundation for this, there were the so-called “Web Guidelines”. These are basically WCAG 2.0 A and AA plus some extra requirements, such as friendly URLs.
These Web Guidelines have been superseded by a temporary conversion into national law of the Web Accessibility Directive. This temporary order will become part of a bigger Law on Digital Government. In the current order, there are no sanctions for not complying. This might change when the Law on Digital Government comes into force.
The European Accessibility Act has not yet been converted into national law.
Monitoring and dashboard
There is one monitoring body, Logius, which monitors the accessibility statements and helps public organisations with improving their digital accessibility. Their website is digitoegankelijk.nl.
All public organisations need to publish an accessibility statement in a fixed form with an online tool. All these statements are available at toegankelijkheidsverklaring.nl/register.
If you want to state that a website or app fully or partially complies to the Web Accessibility Directive, there must be a WCAG accessibility audit report as a foundation. This report is valid for 3 years.
An accessibility statement can have one of the following statuses:
- E: no statement published.
- D: no audit planned.
- C: audit planned, but not yet done.
- B: audit shows there are still some failures.
- A: audit show conformance to the Web Accessibility Directive.
Right now the register of accessibility statements is being transferred into a dashboard: dashboard.digitoegankelijk.nl. This shows even more information about the state of accessibility at the Dutch government as a whole and per organisation.
WCAG audits need to be done according to the evaluation method WCAG-EM. As a public organisation you can do it yourself, but this usually is outsourced.
It is possible to divide an audit into a technical audit and a content audit. In the technical audit, the auditor reviews 43 success criteria from a technical perspective. In a content audit, the auditor reviews 30 success criteria from a content perspective. There are some overlaps and these numbers are for WCAG 2.1 A+AA reports and will change for WCAG 2.2.
There is a national programme for help and support for public organisations.
Most – if not all – public organisations have accessibility as requirement in procurement.
If you are a web agency, designer or software builder and if you have proven that you can make digitally accessible products or services, you can apply to be listed on ddai.nl/aanbieders (Dutch Digital Accessibility Index). This is a commercial initiative for organisations that are looking for accessible suppliers.
You can download the PowerPoint sheets from our Slack channel (I cannot upload it here). Please let me know if you run into any problems with this.