Native accessible interaction for all: Accessible born social media

Last decade the Council of Europe signed and ratified the United Nations Convention of Rights of Persons with Disability CRPD (2006)[1]. This derived in three pieces of legislation: Web Accessibility Directive (2016)[2] Audiovisual Media Service Directive (2018) [3] and the European Accessibility Act (2019) [4] that should secure full and democratic participation of all citizens in the new Information Society. One of the basic pillars to develop media accessibility is to design any ICT product and service with a Universal Design [5] approach. Another important pillar for accessibility development is to think about it from the very start, what is called born accessible (Montagud and Orero forthcoming).

Adapting a Universal Design for All approach at the earliest stage of the design and development process of any ICT product or service, maximizes accessibility for all potential end-users. The recent adoption of laws and policies at EU and international levels put accessibility in the front line requiring that any software, web content, documents and hardware can be accessed in a way that all people regardless of their capabilities can use and interact with them. Both principles of born accessible and Universal Design should be taken into consideration when developing H2020 projects.

The presentation will first describe the CRPD, and specifically Article 9 were accessibility to digital media is gathered. It will then describe the principles of Universal Design applied to media environment and social media. After a revision of the new EU legislation regarding the Information Society, the methodology used to generate an accessible born technology will be explained, to conclude with the application in all current TransMedia Catalonia H2020 projects (i.e EasyTV, iMac, Helios, So-Close and Traction).

Keywords: Human Rights, Information Society, Web Accessibility

[1] https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.html

[2] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/dir/2016/2102/oj

[3] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=celex%3A32010L0013

[4] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM%3A2015%3A0615%3AFIN

[5]  “The Principles of Universal Design Version 2.0”. Design.ncsu.edu. 1997-04-01. Retrieved 2019-12-08.

Documentación ONLINE

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Documento Complementario de Apoyo
Descargar Native-Accessible-Born-Media_Sevilla.pdf


Nombre Adscripcion Procedencia
Estella Oncins Universitat Autònoma de Barelona España


  1. Alfonso Mendiz2020-04-02 12:07:46

    Thank you very much, Estella. You have perfectly answered my question. I am very satisfied.

  2. Christian Carvajal2020-04-02 11:20:19

    Thanks for the interesting presentation. Honestly I had no idea of the amount of regulation which surrounds this very important aspect of social media communication. IN regards to my question, apart from the existing legislation, have there been any concrete cases where this legislation in Europe, or even Spain has been enforced and concrete actions undertaken to make sure social media platforms abide by them?

    • eoncins2020-04-02 13:35:53

      Thanks Christian for your interest and question. In fact accessibility is a field that it has been underestimated for years, because at the end we are all getting old so we will most probably end up developing some form of disability and need some form of accessibility. This is one of the main reasons the EU is taking remediation actions to ensure accessibility. In response to your question about accessibility in the social media platforms, it is a very relevant question that involves not only the platforms itself but the society in general. There is no specific legislation for social media platforms, legislation only applies to the web in general and at the moment to public organisations in particular. There are two main issues, first is that accessibility should be an empathy-driven issue, not a legal-binding obligation, because as we can see if somebody has to ensure accessibility the usual way is to accomplish accessibility levels in terms of being compliant at a legal level, not always understanding what accessibility means. If you are new to accessibility and worry about it I would suggest you to watch the perspective videos from W3C: Web Accessibility Perspectives: Explore the Impact and Benefits for Everyone (https://www.w3.org/WAI/perspective-videos/) Another issue is that one of the problems of social media platforms is that the content itself is created and managed by users. Meaning that we have the video on demand on one side (like Netflix) that has a control over the audiovisual content and platform, but in social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, to name some, users are responsible for creating and managing the media content that they upload. This means that accessibility is in a nowhere field. How should be responsible for providing accessibility to this content the platform or the user? Some social media platforms do provide accessibility features but do not cover the full range of accessibility services. For instance, while you can add alt-text in most social media platforms or provide subtitles, Audio Description (audio information to visual elements for blind or visually disabled people) is still a major challenge. In terms of concrete actions there are some public administrations that provide advice on addressing accessibility. This is the case of the EUA in the Federal Social Media Accessibility Toolkit Hackpad (https://digital.gov/resources/federal-social-media-accessibility-toolkit-hackpad/). In any case it is important for us as society to understand the importance of accessibility.

  3. Alfonso Mendiz2020-04-02 11:02:52

    Congratulations, Estella, for your presentation. I liked the legislative panorama that you describe in the field of social media. I wanted to ask you, if you know it, what legislation currently exists in Europe specifically on subtitling for the deaf in television programs and audiovisual advertising. Thank you. A cordial greeting, Alfonso.

    • eoncins2020-04-02 11:51:13

      Hello Alfonso, thanks a lot for the interest. As mentioned in the presentation the current legislation in the specific field of accessibility services (Sign Language, Subtitling for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Audio Description) in the broadcast television is the Audiovisual Media Service Directive (AVMSD). A first version from 2010 was transposed to the different EU members states, and it was mandatory to cover specific percentages and hours for the different services. In Spain the transposition was through the Ley General de la Comunicación Audiovisual (Ley 7/2010) (https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2010/04/01/pdfs/BOE-A-2010-5292.pdf). In 2018 the EU made an update of the AVMSD Directive in order to also integrate the video on demand platforms and increase not only the accessibility services quotes not only in terms of quantity but also quality (automatic subtitling is not yet mature enough). Still advertising is a missing field in terms of accessibility. Different European end user organisations, such as EDF are fighting to expand and ensure quantity and quality of the accessibility services in as much digital media content and audiovisual media platforms as possible. Here is the link to the EDF Audiovisual Media Services Directive Toolkit for transposition (http://www.edf-feph.org/sites/default/files/final_edf_avmsd_toolkit_november_2019_0.pdf). There is still a long road until we reach a real born accessible level. I hope I answered your question.

  4. Manuel Jesús Cartes Barroso2020-04-01 18:57:32

    Hello again!. Beyond what happens in Europe, what is the status of legislation on accessibility to digital media?

    • eoncins2020-04-02 10:24:19

      Hello Manuel, thanks for the interest and the question. At the moment the status of legislation on accessibility to digital media varies in each different country in the EU. The mentioned directives are now gradually being transposed to the EU member states through binding legislation that should be implemented gradually. This will allow to homogenize the European landscape in terms of accessibility to digital media. For instance, on June 7 2019, the “Directive 2019/882 on the accessibility requirements of products and services”, the European Accessibility Act, which legislates the accessibility requirements of certain products and services in Europe, was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. This means that, it must be transposed into national legislation before June 28, 2022 and, in general terms, it will apply to new products and services from June 28, 2025; and will apply to products or services placed on the market before that date, as of June 28, 2030. I hope that this answers your question. Best.

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