User Experience

E.U. Accessibility Act Impacts Global Merchants

The European Accessibility Act is a directive of the European Commission and adopted as law by member countries in 2019. Its purpose is to improve access to products and services for E.U. residents with disabilities. Enforcement begins June 28, 2025.

The EAA applies to many products and services, such as mobile phones, ebooks, and transportation providers. It explicitly includes ecommerce websites.

Like the E.U.’s General Data Protection Regulation, the EAA requires compliance by businesses with Europe-based customers. No matter where it’s located or registered, any ecommerce business with E.U. customers must comply with the EAA. Only “micro-enterprises” — those with fewer than 10 employees and revenue below €2 million (approximately $2.1 million) — are exempt.

Map of Europe with labels on the member countries

Companies worldwide with customers in any of the 27 E.U. member countries must comply with the EAA. Source: European Commission.


Each E.U. country has laid out enforcement mechanisms and penalties for noncompliance. Consumers may file a complaint with a country’s monitoring agency, which will notify the business and launch an investigation, although the agencies can investigate and enforce without a complaint.

The penalties for noncompliance range in severity but include fines of €60,000 or more and, in Ireland, up to 18 months in jail for refusing to comply or dishonesty in reporting.

How to Compy

The requirements of country-specific laws vary. But at a minimum, the laws require the implementation of Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA.

Start by addressing common violations. Ensure:

  • Your site meets minimum WCAG color contrast guidelines between fonts and backgrounds.
  • Images (except for spacers and other decorative items) include descriptive alt text for users of screen readers.
  • Headings are properly nested to indicate the content structure and not simply for styling.

An accessibility specialist can help, as can automated testing platforms, such as the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool. However, in my experience, automated checkers detect only 30% of accessibility problems. For instance, checking keyboard navigation requires manual testing, not automated.

Moreover, the European Commission has stated that no automated tool, including overlays and widgets, can cover the entire WCAG 2.1 AA criteria or substitute for manual work to ensure full EAA compliance.

Avoid Delay

Accessibility compliance is not a one-time task. Any change in website layout, navigation, categories, or products could impact accessibility. Thus consider how to maintain compliance over time through regular checks or audits.

Depending on the website, fixing accessibility failures could take upwards of a year. Don’t delay if your business has E.U. customers. Remember, enforcement begins June 28, 2025.

Bet Hannon
Bet Hannon
Bio   •   RSS Feed