As the European Accessibility Act (EAA) gears up for its implementation in June 2025, it heralds a new era of digital inclusivity for individuals with disabilities.

Despite its groundbreaking potential, the act seems to be only quietly making its way onto the legislative stage. The lack of fanfare contradicts the critical implications and high stakes associated with digital accessibility in today’s interconnected world.

The Importance of adhering to the EAA cannot be overstated, especially when considering the legal and financial ramifications of non-compliance. Although the EAA does not specify penalties (as of yet), it grants member states the authority to enforce compliance through substantial fines. In some jurisdictions, such as Spain, these fines can escalate to as much as EUR 1,000,000, a clear indicator of the seriousness with which this issue is being treated.

This scenario echoes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States, where a significant uptick in litigation related to digital accessibility has been observed. Lawsuits have surged, more than doubling since 2018, serving as a stark warning of what could be on the horizon for the European Economic Area. The sharp increase in ADA-related legal challenges serves as a cautionary tale for companies across Europe: prioritise digital accessibility not just as a legal mandate, but as a strategic imperative to future-proof your business against potential legal battles and financial losses.

And many industries have a way to go. For example, the Airline Digital Accessibility Report highlights that no airline meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1 AA). Across industries accessibility remains a challenge, as numerous companies and workplaces have yet to embrace inclusive practices.

Engaging with digital experiences and services looks different for everyone, especially those with a disability. A significant group of individuals depend on keyboards for computer navigation and internet browsing because they cannot use a mouse. People with visual impairments require screen readers to vocalise webpage text, and images must have alternative descriptions for these tools to convey their content audibly. COVID-19 also exacerbated the need for many aspects of everyday life to be online too.

Disability equalities charity Scope, shares that “inaccessible websites can shut disabled people out, whether that’s for shopping, work, finding information or booking medical appointments. [We want] to see a world where disabled people have equal access to products and services and the world of work.”

There is going to be a turning point for digital inclusivity so ensuring your business can stay ahead of the upcoming regulations is crucial. Being proactive rather than reactive in preparing for the EAA is not just beneficial—it’s essential for ensuring sustainable business operations and avoiding significant legal and financial risks. Making your website more accessible can therefore include helping with keyboard navigation, understanding text and overall following the ARIA Authoring Practices Guide.

But not everyone is sitting silent. At Emergn, we have announced significant updates to our Infinity Design System to help companies be more digitally inclusive. Infinity includes robust design and code components and documentation that empower teams to minimises overhead and technical debt, focusing on delivering exceptional user experiences. It uses design tokens to ensure visual consistency across components and automate updates from design to code.

Emergn’s Infinity Design System simplifies accessibility by offering components that not only comply with WCAG 2.1 guidelines, but that are also forward compatible to the upcoming WCAG 3.0 standard. Our components are scalable for any product or platform, offering you a single source of truth for all your teams.

Infinity is built to be an accelerator to create your own custom design system that will make your teams more efficient and ensure your products are digitally accessible.

What else can companies do to be more digitally accessible? To implement and maintain accessibility these are various elements to keep in mind, according to Scope:

Fonts and styling

The selection of font can impact individuals with visual impairments and learning challenges. There is no universal font that meets the needs of all users; however, certain fonts are more readable than others. Fonts featuring straightforward, recognisable forms where each letter is clearly distinguishable from the next offer the highest readability. Examples of fonts that meet these requirements are sans-serif fonts, such as Arial, and serif fonts, such as Times New Roman.

Images

Adding Alt-text to an image is an effective way for users to grasp the concept of an image by a description. It is essentially a concise description attached to an image, not displayed on the page but vocalised by screen readers.

Colour Palette

Colour contrast refers to the variation in lightness between the colours used in the foreground and those in the background. Individuals with visual impairments might struggle to discern text lacking sufficient contrast, while those with colour blindness might be unable to perceive certain colours altogether. It’s important to carefully consider the colour combinations you choose. We advise utilising colour contrast tools to verify that your selections align with legal accessibility standards, ensuring inclusivity for all users.

Navigation

Navigating digital content should be feasible using just a keyboard, as some individuals with disabilities may not utilise a mouse or trackpad. Moreover, certain assistive devices, such as Head/Mouth Stick Keyboards, are designed to operate as standalone navigation tools.
Users who navigate with a keyboard often depend on a single button to move through interactive elements, including links. They need distinct focus indicators to identify which part of the page they are engaging with at any moment.

Language

Using plain English to write your content ensures it is concise, easy to understand, and avoids complex jargon, making it a preferred choice for government and health organisations. The benefits of plain language are significant; it not only allows for faster reading but also supports individuals with lower literacy levels, aids non-native English speakers, and is more accessible for those with learning difficulties.

Proactive preparation can drive innovation as well as mitigate many legal, financial, and reputational risks. Aligning with EAA standards offers businesses an opportunity to significantly broaden their market reach and enhance their brand reputation. With around 16% of the global population experiencing some form of disability, ensuring digital accessibility opens up markets and builds brand loyalty among a wider audience. They have a combined spending power of more than $6 trillion. Adopting an accessibility-first approach in product development not only meets regulatory requirements but also positions companies as inclusive, socially responsible entities in the eyes of consumers and potential partners.

The challenge of retrofitting digital assets to meet accessibility standards highlights the importance of integrating these considerations from the beginning of the product development process. By prioritising accessibility from the start, companies can avoid the accumulation of technical debt and reduce overhead costs associated with making existing digital assets compliant. This strategy not only ensures efficiency and cost-effectiveness but also fosters a culture of innovation within teams, as solving for accessibility often requires creative problem-solving and innovative thinking.

Finally, the competitive advantage gained by early compliance with the EAA cannot be overstated. In a digital marketplace where consumers increasingly value inclusivity and social responsibility, companies that demonstrate a commitment to digital accessibility stand out. Promoting this commitment can attract customers and partners alike, enhancing a company’s market position and contributing to a more inclusive digital world.

Preparing for the EAA is more than a legal obligation, it’s a strategic opportunity for businesses to lead in fostering an inclusive digital environment. By acting now, companies can avert future risks, access new markets, and contribute to a more equitable digital future for all.

Senior Product Manager at Emergn | + posts

Alex is a product professional with a background in user experience design in the product engineering and global services space. His work has focused on designing digital experiences for Emergn's enterprise customers and working with their design system team to bring their design language to life. He is skilled in defining, validating, and delivering human-centered solutions that improve the lives of people.

He brings his love and knowledge of digital technology, intelligent user interfaces, and industry tools and techniques to offer a balanced and rounded perspective. He is determined to become an industry leader in product design, delivery, and innovation, transforming how people and companies approach and deliver user experiences to their customers.