Editors’ note: Today’s post aims to put the spotlight on the European Accessibility Act (EAA) directive and the upcoming law and to better understand how different organizations are getting ready to make their publications and services EAA compliant. Members of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Accessibility Subcommittee and/or their colleagues provided feedback on the topic. We’re going to hear from:

  • Maxine Aldred, Director, Books and Journals Production, American Society of Civil Engineers at (United States)
  • Allison Belan, Director for Strategic Innovation and Services at Duke University Press (United States)
  • John Chen, Director of Development, Science Tech Press (China)
  • Simon Holt, Senior Product Manager, Content Accessibility, Elsevier (Global, with the headquarters in the Netherlands)
  • Miguel Ramos, Digital Library Project Manager at SPIE (United States)
  • Damita Snow, Director, Accessibility & Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategy, Publications & Standards at the American Society of Civil Engineers at (United States)

The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is a European Union directive (2019/882) that aims to standardize accessibility requirements for products and services in the European Union. The main objectives are to:

  • resolve discrepancies in accessibility requirements among European Union members;
  • ensure accessible products and services are affordable to those who need them;
  • improve the trade in accessible products and services;
  • create more jobs available to people with disabilities, especially where accessibility expertise is needed.

While the EU Web Accessibility Directive of 2016 required EU member states to maintain a standardized set of accessibility standards for website and mobile applications for their public sectors, the EAA extends the focus to the private sector and to a broader range of digital products including ebooks and dedicated software, e-readers, websites, and e-commerce services. The implementation date for the EAA is June 2025 for frontlist titles, with a 5-year exemption until June 2030 for backlist titles.

The EAA considers the ebook supply chain from production to consumption, but it does not specify how to make ebooks accessible. However, in their EPUB Accessibility – EU Accessibility Act Mapping document, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) demonstrates that “the European Accessibility Act related to ebooks are met by the EPUB® standard” from a format perspective, though this does not address other provisions included in the Act. The EN 301 549 V3.2.1 standard provides some elements for a framework for assessing website accessibility.

A gavel and a disability person sign

Why Should Your Organization Care?

The EAA directive applies to products and services that are sold or used within the EU and, after July 2025, your business may be prohibited from offering certain digital products and publishing services in the European Union market if they are not compliant, regardless of where your organization is based. As well as benefiting people with disabilities, the elderly, and other groups with accessibility challenges, your business will benefit from easier cross-border trading and more market opportunities.

Although the EEA doesn’t come into effect until 2025 for frontlist titles, with a 5-year extension granted for backlist titles, publishing and wider scholarly communication organizations should review and adjust their digital publications and publication services now to ensure their compliance. The directive requires organizations to make their content available through accessible devices and services, so the supply and distribution chain also needs to be involved in the review and remediation. The EAA relates to books, rather than journals, but journal publishers should still care to make the changes.

On the Scope of Work

Simon Holt

The EAA mandates that publishers make ebooks, e-commerce processes, and websites accessible to users with print disabilities. This involves adding alt text descriptions to every image associated with a book, captioning video content, providing transcripts with audio content, and publishing books in an accessible format (EPUB being the most accessible). Metadata must also be available for products sold, so that a print-disabled person knows what accessibility features are provided before they buy. Other pieces of legislation also include accessibility requirements, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the OSTP Memo, focused on research publishing; and other countries like Canada have or are in the process of passing content-accessibility related legislation that mirrors much of the EAA. At Elsevier, therefore, we are taking an enterprise-level approach to accessibility, looking at the content we publish and the platforms on which it is published.

Damita Snow and Maxine Aldred

At ASCE, our primary focus is to ensure that practitioners and academicians, early career engineers, students, non-native English speakers, and others can easily access our products and platforms. We publish over 35 journals, 400+ books, two magazines, 800+ proceedings, our recently launched Amplify platform, for our 150+ standards, and a conference video platform. Accessibility forms a significant part of our work, extending beyond the realm of web accessibility with screen readers to the development of alt text for our content. ASCE Publications is committed to making material accessible to all, working strategically with our contributing authors, staff, and vendors to ensure that what we produce is in line with our Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT), and is compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Our recent redesign of ASCE Library enables us to provide further accessible content via XML — beyond our current focus on screen readers for low vision and adaptive color contrasts for color blindness. ASCE Publications staff continuously review mandates and guidelines to be as compliant as possible across all categories of accessibility. We’ve been working with one of our vendors for the last 18 months to stay abreast of the EAA; they have been paying critical attention to legislation in the EU and are advising us on how to move forward.

Allison Belan

Duke University Press (DUP) publishes 150 books a year and 60+ journals in the humanities, social sciences, and mathematics. Most DUP publications are already available in accessible formats (EPUB3, XML, HTML5), so we have lighter lift in that arena. We will be converting the handful of journals and books not yet in reflowable formats, or incorporating accessible features into PDFs in cases where meaning and presentation are inseparable (e.g., concrete poetry). Most of our efforts are focused on incorporating good alt text, language tagging, and legible color contrast ratios into in-progress publications. We are aiming for full compliance with all new publications by the end of 2024.

DUP’s Equity and Inclusion Task Force includes an active Disability and Accessibility Working Group, which provides education and resources on accessible practices and facilitates information sharing and learning in the community. Through their efforts, our entire organization has come to understand the critical importance of making the scholarship we publish accessible to all who wish to engage with it. There’s tremendous commitment from all corners of the Press to this undertaking.

Miguel Ramos

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has been continuously refining the accessibility of our publications and platform. Recent improvements include keyboard navigation (all links navigable to by tab or arrow keys with visible focus status so users can see which link they are on), improvements to luminosity/readability (ensuring a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for regular text on all pages), and alt text for most images on journal pages. Work specific to the EAA involves implementing the EPUB format for all SPIE ebooks – the SPIE Digital Library is set up well for this transition, as we have previously used EPUB so our systems are already configured for it. Other upcoming improvements include further refining keyboard navigation so that tabbing through an article is sensible to a reader, mobile accessibility improvements, and developing a system to collect author-supplied alt text during the submission process.

John Chen

Tech Science Press (TSP) efforts will focus on:

  • Article content: Providing academic articles in accessible formats (HTML, PDF, EPUB, etc) to ensure compatibility with assistive technologies; adding alt text to figures within scholarly articles; ensuring proper heading structures and semantic markup for easy navigation; and offering alternative formats such as large print, Braille, or electronic formats compatible with assistive technologies.
  • Supplementary materials: Ensuring that supplementary materials, such as appendices, datasets, or additional files, are accessible.
  • Website and submission: The website and submission system will follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

TSP will also be implementing accessible design principles for journal information on our website: considering accessibility in the presentation of Altmetrics data; providing accessible guidelines to authors on journal information including editorial policies, ethics, and author guidelines; offering accessibility training for in-house editors, editorial editors, and peer reviewers.

On Tools and Vendors Involved

Simon Holt

We are working with vendor partners to support accessibility improvements to make us compliant with the EAA, and we make good use of the DAISY suite of EPUB validation tools, including ACE and SMART. We have also received the Benetech accessible publishing certification for our books, which helped guide our accessibility efforts by helping us understand what best practice looks like. Given the volume of titles we publish each year, both tools and partners are vital to being able to systematize accessibility throughout our publishing program and ensure all readers can use our content effectively.

Damita Snow and Maxine Aldred

Some tools that we use are Color Oracle, Site Improve, University of Cambridge Impairment simulator software, Dragon, and Job Access with Speech (JAWS) screen reader. We use simulators to help identify accessibility issues on our site. They are not intended to replace anyone’s lived experience, but are a place to start. Please share your thoughts; any tools that you may use in the comments. Our go-to sites include the International Association of Accessibility Professionals, World Wide Web Consortium, and Deque.

Allison Belan

In the near term, DUP is relying heavily on our vendors to help us reach compliance. In-process books and journal articles do not have author-provided alt text and weren’t tagged for language in copyediting. Our composition vendors will generate suggested alt text and attend to color contrast and language, our editors and authors will review that, and it will be incorporated in the late stages of production. We will continue this approach until updated guidelines can be distributed to authors and copy editors for future manuscripts.

We expect vendors to employ technology, tools, and processes to produce accessible formats, backed by quality assurance routines and periodic audits. In addition to publishing our books in EPUB3, we have our own content platform, hosted with Silverchair, where all journals and ebooks are presented in some combination of HTML5 and PDF, with a WCAG 2.2 AA conformance target. As a university press, we benefit from services from Duke University’s accessibility office and experts, which we will use to continually guide us on standards and best practices.

Miguel Ramos

SPIE works with Lumina Datamatics to produce and process the format for our ebooks. Accessibility evaluation tools used include the WAVE web accessibility evaluation tool, a WCAG contrast checker, the NVDA screen reader, as-needed selections from the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List, Colorblindly, and free accessibility audits from Ace, Web Accessibility (https://www.webaccessibility.com/), and Accessi.org.

John Chen

We will ensure that our IT team has expertise in web accessibility standards, such as WCAG, and we will develop the functions by integrating the accessibility guidelines and best practices into the development process.

On Benefits and Challenges

Simon Holt

There are multiple benefits to publishing accessible content. Approximately 40 million people in the world are registered blind according to the UN, and accessibility also improves access to our content for those with other kinds of disability, including hearing-impaired and dyslexic people. That’s a lot of people, so ensuring everyone can access our content is therefore important from a commercial as well as a mission perspective. It is, of course, important to comply with relevant legislation, including the EAA, but ensuring our content is accessible to the widest possible audience speaks more to Elsevier’s mission to help researchers and healthcare professionals advance science and improve health outcomes for the benefit of society.

The challenge, of course, is the ‘how’. We are a large publisher of many different types of book content, publishing on a variety of platforms – both Elsevier-owned and third-party platforms. Making sure that all of our workflows include all the right steps is a significant undertaking, which is why we are preparing well in advance for the EAA. In addition, in such a fast-moving field, solutions are ever-changing – the best way to provide alt text descriptions for math content is an example where there are several alternatives. Similarly, AI technology is as relevant to accessibility as it is to other areas of our industry. Finally, as we prepare to publish their work, it is vital that, during the application and verification of alt text, we give our authors the opportunity for oversight whilst not adding unreasonably to their workload.

Damita Snow and Maxine Aldred

We have several platform vendors who understand that accessible content is of the utmost importance. We have recently updated the accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion page on our ASCE library site, and we are scheduled to do the same for our other platforms. Voluntary product accessibility templates will soon be found on all our platforms, and we have myriad other initiatives related to accessibility in place. In a world that rightly requires accessibility as quickly as possible, the challenge is to stay ahead of the curve and decide on where to focus our immediate attention to meet the greatest needs.

One immediate challenge relates to alt text for our many figures: who will write it and who is the best placed to review it for accuracy — the author or staff with author involvement? We’ve heard that some publishers rely on AI and would be interested in hearing about other publishers’ processes.

Allison Belan

Meeting EAA targets offers tremendous benefits for our organization. Librarians routinely inquire about DUP content and platform accessibility for collection decisions; achieving compliance with EAA will enable us to respond consistently and confidently about specific accessibility practices. DUP continually strives to be a more inclusive, more just, more equitable place to work and to publish, and meeting EAA requirements is an opportunity to live our values. We owe our authors the broadest possible platform and audience, and we owe the world every opportunity to engage the critical knowledge we disseminate.

In addition to changing our workflows and practices, some challenges are specific to DUP:

  • The EAA makes no exceptions for already-published material. Our archive, dating back to the early 20th century, has about 115,000 journal articles and 3,500 ebooks, all of which lack alt text and other accessibility measures, which will require extensive labor and expense.
  • Our list is rich in cultural studies, media studies, and art and visual culture. We publish 1000s of images annually. Their complex and nuanced relationship to the text may hinder AI tools or third-party services in backlist remediation. Guiding contributors to create alt text will remain challenging until accessibility is ingrained in scholarly writing practices.
  • DUP publishes several mathematics journals, where the standard digital format is PDF, by way of LaTeX. Converting our workflows from PDF to HTML and supporting our math editors and contributors through the transition will be a heavy lift.

Miguel Ramos

Compliance with the EAA is not only the right thing to do, it will also allow continued sales and cooperation with our European partners. Our accessibility work in general will also contribute to making scholarly publishing accessible for all users. SPIE has the usual challenges of balancing staff time and development resources, prioritizing accessibility improvement work with business endeavors, and managing the timing and costs of EPUB conversion and other accessibility work.

John Chen

By making content accessible, organizations can reach more readers, including individuals with disabilities. Many regions have regulations that require organizations to ensure accessibility, such as EAA, and complying with these standards can protect against legal challenges and demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity. The primary challenges to ensuring accessibility lie in the areas of investment and human resources. Adapting content and publishing processes to meet accessibility standards may necessitate an initial investment in technology development, implementation, and training.


We hope that these contributions will open space for more discussion about how publishers are working toward EAA compliance. Accessibility is the principle of providing equal access and there is no better time than now to put accessibility on your strategic roadmap. We recommend allocating resources for accessibility work, staying educated, and involving your community – both for compliance and beyond.

Blog post sponsored by the SSP Accessibility Subcommittee:

  • Lia Grabowski West, Wiley
  • Simon Holt, Elsevier B.V.
  • Nicola Poser, American Mathematical Society
  • Kasia Repeta, Duke University Press
  • Amanda Rogers, BioOne
  • Damita Snow, American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Ruochen Xian, Tech Science Press

Maxine Aldred

Maxine Aldred has been a publishing professional for more than 25 years and has been a devoted leader in the industry. Maxine has been recognized for her forward-thinking initiatives and creative solutions that optimize resources to achieve outstanding results. She has served in numerous roles, including Program Manager, Group Manager, Director, Books Development and her current role, Director of Publications Production. Presently, at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Maxine manages staff, budgets, and vendors, in addition to providing oversight and direction for 35 scientific journals and more than 50 books annually. Maxine’s noteworthy and scholarly publishing experience can be credited to ASCE, the Endocrine Society, and AGU.

Allison Belan

Allison Belan is Director for Strategic Innovation and Services at Duke University Press. She directs DUP’s technology and digital publishing operations, including IT, product management, digital content and hosting. Her remit includes digital content strategies, practices, and systems. Additionally, Allison oversees two service offerings to other non-profit scholarly publishers, Project Euclid and the Scholarly Publishing Collective. In her twenty year career in scholarly publishing, Allison has been an active contributor to the Society of Scholarly Publishing, AUPresses, the Triangle Scholarly Scholarly Communications Institute, and numerous other industry groups and conferences.

John Chen

John Chen supervises Tech Science Press's general operations, all communications and correspondence. He is also involved in all strategic projects including the journals’ development and logistics, and working cross-organizationally and collaboratively with all liaisons to develop large scale initiatives that make progress to increase the impact.

Simon Holt

Simon Holt is Head of Central Strategies, Content Acquisition at Elsevier. He is also Disability Confidence Manager for the organization, working to identify and remove barriers that prevent people with disabilities achieving their potential at work. He lives in Oxford, UK.

Miguel Ramos

Miguel Ramos is a librarian who has worked in academic and public libraries, as a Usability Designer for a non-profit healthcare system, and as an educator at a Tribal College. He is currently a project manager for SPIE’s Digital Library, leading efforts in accessibility improvements to its platform, as well as volunteering with C4DISC to help create the Toolkit for Disability Equity.

Damita Snow

Damita Snow

Damita Snow, CAE, ENV SP is Director, Accessibility & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Publications & Strategy at the American Society of Civil Engineers. She worked on all three Toolkits for Equity, was co-lead of the Antiracism Toolkit for Organizations, is a member of the 2023 Workforce Equity Survey committee and is an immediate past co-chair of the SSP Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Committee. Snow is also an SSP Board member, ASAE Black Association Executives Board member and former Advisory Board member of AMP Network Associations Council.


15 Thoughts on "Guest Post — European Accessibility Act: Working Toward Compliance and Beyond"

I’m confused about the overall definition of what in our backlist should be made accessible and how far back we should go. Some presses are saying everything needs converting, but according to the EAA: “(102) The accessibility requirements of this Directive should apply to products placed on the market and services provided after the date of application of the national measures transposing this Directive, including used and second-hand products imported from a third country and placed on the market after that date” (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32019L0882#d1e32-100-1). I’m interpreting this as, “Products [like eBooks] that were created before June 2019, when the application of this directive went into effect, do not need to follow this mandate, but anything after June 2019 does need to be made accessible.” Am I reading that wrong? Does anyone else know??

I think you are correct Jenn, but there is an additional 2030 deadline to fix anything that was produced prior to the 2025 deadline, unless this is deemed an ‘disproportionate burden’ on that organisation. Example of this would be is the cost of remedying this issues for your back catalogue would leave you in financial difficulty.

The official EAA documentation is dense and can be interpreted in different ways, hence I have been reading a lot of contradictory information and guidance on this subject. I have also come across many outside accessibility ‘experts’ touting for work they claim needs to be undertaken but it is clearly not required to comply with the EAA (Even if it would actually improve accessibility), this might be a case of people seeing the possibility of getting $$$ from organisations who lack internal expertise in this area.

The need for better accessibility is clear, but the what, where, how and who of EAA compliance is not currently in my honest opinion.

It is much more complicated. The German Börsenverein makes clear:
“However, there is no clarification in the EAA, the BFSG, the explanatory memorandum to the law or the associated statutory regulation that confirms our view. At European level, the Commission seems to assume that the backlist is covered. Only Sweden seems to explicitly exclude the backlist from the accessibility requirements. In France, a decree has clarified that a transitional period until June 28, 2030 applies to e-books published before June 28, 2025. In doing so, France refers to Art. 32 EAA (implemented in Germany in Section 38 para. 1 sentence 2), according to which service contracts existing before June 28, 2025 continue unchanged until their expiry, but no longer than five years from this date.”

I feel like it’s fair to say from what’s written here that the publishing industry is following and not leading when it comes to accessibility.

I would like to see more ambition, and more support of disabled publishing industry professionals.

As an example, who will step up to fund the MathML project that’s essential for accessibility?

Do you have in mind increased use of MathML (e.g., in place of math images), or better browser support for MathML, or something else?

This is more nuanced than “a project is needed.” When the recent (terrific!) update to MathML was developed, a Spanish firm named Igalia was contracted (yes, paid) to implement that new spec in Chromium, which is the engine underlying both the Chrome and Edge browsers. That work is complete–and successful. I believe it has since already been done in Webkit, the other main foundational software for EPUB reading systems, which is what Apple and others use. So the problem has moved downstream to the implementations in the various EPUB reading systems. Many now do a good job of rendering the new MathML; see epubtest.org for ongoing reporting of the testing being done, headed up by the DAISY Consortium. But the elephant in the room is Amazon. They have not addressed this, which means that although publishers absolutely should use MathML for equations (that is a long-lasting solution), temporarily, fallbacks need to be used for some reading systems that have not gotten around to implementing MathML properly. That’s why Amazon currently wants images+alt text for equations. Doing ONLY that is not only suboptimal, but also short-sighted. So what I recommend to publishers is both: provide MathML for the equations and then also give Amazon (and maybe others who need this) the images and alt text. One final note: use MathCAT to generate the alt text. It will generally do a way better job than you will be able to do, and handles nuances like the domain involved (the same equation can be spoken in two different ways in two different domains) and the style that’s appropriate to the audience. I hope this is helpful. (And to beat a horse that won’t die: just get going on your backlist, most important books first. You don’t want to find out on June 28, 2025 that you can’t sell EPUBs in the EU that aren’t accessible. Many people think what the EU says is ambiguous, but I think it’s really clear: the extension applies to services like ereaders and retailers, not to the products they deliver, namely the books. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, that makes perfect sense because the consequences to a service like an ereader or retailer–basically being put out of business in the EU–is far more consequential than the inability to sell a given book until the publisher gets around to making it accessible.)

It is encouraging to learn how these scholarly publishers are responding to the European Accessibility Act. I appreciate the example you are setting with accessibility.

Could somebody provide the exact language in the EAA that states that there is a five-year exemption for backlist? It is my understanding that that’s a myth. It’s a very common myth, but I’m pretty sure it’s a myth. The issue is that any DIGITAL PRODUCT has to be accessible by June 2025. That doesn’t apply to your print backlist of course; that’s not an issue. But to sell a digital book in the EU after June 2025, it has to be accessible. That is my understanding. You are free to prioritize WHICH backlist books you make accessible. If there is a five-year extension–meaning you can sell inaccessible backlist books until 2030–I need to see that in black and white; it’s news to me, and I do a ton of accessibility work.

Hi Bill – as you know (and anyone else reading this needs to know), I’m not a lawyer. Therefore, anything I say is absolutely not legally watertight, and should not be taken as legal advice or guidance in any way. However, my understanding is the following:

1. eBooks are categorised as a ‘service’ rather than a ‘product’ under the EAA:
Clause 2 of the EAA states:
‘Without prejudice to Article 32, this Directive applies to the following services provided to consumers after 28 June 2025:

(e) e-books and dedicated software;

Further, Clause 41 states:
(41) ‘e-book and dedicated software’ means a service, consisting of the provision of digital files that convey an electronic version of a book, that can be accessed, navigated, read and used and the software including mobile device-based services including mobile applications dedicated to the accessing, navigation, reading and use of those digital files, and it excludes software covered under the definition in point (42);

(42) ‘e-reader’ means dedicated equipment, including both hardware and software, used to access, navigate, read and use e-book files;

2. There is a transition period of 5 years – to June 2030, that allows services in operation before the implementation date to continue to be offered. Article 32 states:
Article 32
Transitional measures
Without prejudice to paragraph 2 of this Article, Member States shall provide for a transitional period ending on 28 June 2030 during which service providers may continue to provide their services using products which were lawfully used by them to provide similar services before that date.
Service contracts agreed before 28 June 2025 may continue without alteration until they expire, but no longer than five years from that date.

So, to me, it’s clear that we have until 2030 to remedy backlist titles, and this is made clear in the legislation. However, again, I’m not a lawyer and this should not be taken as the legal basis for anything, just my personal understanding.


Actually, Simon, I think what you’ve provided supports my position (which I’ve had confirmed by knowledgeable people in accessibility). The text you cited explicitly applies to the SERVICE, the e-readers and other systems for delivering ebooks. The ebooks are not a service, they’re a PRODUCT. I’m quite sure this doesn’t apply to the ebooks, just the systems/services.


Initially what I thought too, but apparently not – since apparently the act of publishing itself is a service. But, agan, neither of us are lawyers so I would venture neither of our opinoins would count for much in a court of law right now.

Simon 🙂

Agreed! I’ve got the question out to the DAISY folks, who have done a lot of work on this. It would make sense to offer the delivery systems a grace period. It is WAY more complicated for them to re-engineer than it is for a publisher to fix an ebook. And without the grace period, they could be putting those delivery systems literally out of business. The ebook ecosystem does clearly involve services, but the ebooks themselves are products. Having to stop selling an ebook for a while until you fix it doesn’t have nearly that catastrophic an impact. And of course you can still sell the print. The EAA is just about digital products, services, and systems. Print backlist isn’t an issue.

Could somebody provide the exact language in the EAA that states that there is a five-year exemption for backlist? It is my understanding that that’s a myth. It’s a very common myth, but I’m pretty sure it’s a myth. The issue is that any DIGITAL PRODUCT has to be accessible by June 2025. That doesn’t apply to your print backlist of course; that’s not an issue. But to sell a digital book in the EU after June 2025, it has to be accessible. That is my understanding. You are free to prioritize WHICH backlist books you make accessible. If there is a five-year extension–meaning you can sell inaccessible backlist books until 2030–I need to see that in black and white; it’s news to me, and I do a ton of accessibility work.


I checked with my friend (and yours, Simon) Richard Orme, CEO of the DAISY Consortium. His thinking is the same as mine. Here’s what he had to say:


I checked with my friend (and yours, Simon) Richard Orme, CEO of the DAISY Consortium. Here’s what he had to say:

I give 28 June 2025 as the date when the EAA becomes effective.

Paragraph 101 of the directive says: “In order to allow service providers sufficient time to adapt to the requirements of this Directive, it is necessary to provide for a transitional period of five years after the date of application of this Directive, during which products used for the provision of a service which were placed on the market before that date do not need to comply with the accessibility requirements of this Directive unless they are replaced by the service providers during the transitional period.”

The EAA draws a distinction between products and services. Under the EAA, ebooks are a service, but the statement above refers to “products used for the provision of a service”. In relation to digital reading I interpret that as an ereader, and not an ebook. The example given in the directive is self-service terminals.

Some will say that people need time to make the change. To which I point out that directive was adopted on April 17, 2019 and came into force on June 7, 2019.

I also state that I’m not a lawyer and implementations in national law may be tougher than the Directive.

Trying to get a definitive statement from the EU is hard, because they will say the law is actually at national level. The legal rep from the PA in the UK recently gave a presentation where they said publishers should consult their own lawyers. Gee, thanks!


So I’m sticking with the advice I’ve been giving to publishers. While ereaders and other modes of delivering ebooks can be consider a service, I think it is a real stretch to argue that the book itself is a service. It’s a product. The language Richard quoted–especially since the example given in the EAA itself is of self-service terminals–is a very strong indication of what they mean. And the logic I pointed out earlier is, I think, compelling: the effort and consequences to the services are FAR greater than to individual books, which is why it makes sense that the extension would give them some more time. Publishers can get their backlist accessible in whatever sequence and timeline makes sense to them–e.g., a common strategy is to do the biggest sellers first and keep chipping away at the rest. I would certainly not want to advise my clients to stick their head in the sand and think they’ve got another five years to make backlist books accessible, only to find that they can’t sell them after 28 June 2025.

Thanks! This is super helpful. I was woefully uniformed previously. With regard to ebooks, am I correct in thinking that I need to focus on making them EN 301 549 compliant? I believe that is the standard I would use for alt text.
Thanks again!

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