All posts by Sauro Cesaretti

About Sauro Cesaretti

Sauro is a Web Accessibility Consultant and front-end Web Developer.
He provides consulting solutions to government agencies, educational institutions and private companies on implementing accessible websites.
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New EU directive requires public sector websites and mobile applications to be accessible

Representatives of EU governments, the European Parliament, and the European Commission have drafted the first mandatory rules to enforce accessibility on European public sector websites and mobile apps. These include state, regional and local authorities, and bodies and associations serving the general interest that are governed by public law.

visual description of website' image

The rules will include guidelines on providing descriptions of non-textual content for persons with visual limitations, creating content that can be better presented across a range of devices that can be browsed without a mouse, making older content available to citizens in accessible form on demand, making mandatory for government videos to have closed captioning or another accessible alternative, including live streaming within a maximum of 14 days of broadcast, or providing accessibility options for online services that involve paying fines or fees. Additionally it must be clearly stated on each website what parts are not accessible.

The scope of the directive has not only been extended to mobile applications, which are more popular than websites, but also to extranets and intranets, to allow employees and students to access information that is essential in their daily lives.

The directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal. European member states will then have 21 months to adopt national legislation to comply with it, and they must start applying the new rules to new websites one year later. For older websites the deadline is two years and for mobile apps 33 months.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, welcomed the agreement:

“Internet access should be a reality for everyone. Leaving millions of Europeans behind is not an option. Tonight’s agreement is an important step towards a Digital Single Market, which is about removing barriers so that all Europeans can get the best from the digital world.”

Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said:

“It is not acceptable that millions of European citizens are left behind in the digital society. The agreement that we have just reached will ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the internet and mobile apps, to participate in society to a fuller extent and to lead a more independent life.”

NVDA: an Open Source Screen Reader

NVDA (Non-visual Desktop Access) is a free and Open Source Screen Reader for Windows operating systems.

With this application, blind and visually impaired people are able to use most of the applications available in the market for windows operating system. It obviously allows even to surf the web with the most popular browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome, in a similar way to JAWS and Window-Eyes. NVDA supports 26 hotkeys to quickly move to webpage elements and also has an elements list that provides access to all the links, headings, and ARIA landmarks on a page. NVDA’s “focus mode” is used when interacting with forms, and it works much like JAWS’s “forms mode” to effectively enter form data.

NVDA keyboard overlay

NVDA also works with WordPad, Notepad and supports the basic functions of Outlook Express, Microsoft Word 2000/XP/2003 and Microsoft Excel 2000/XP/2003. Support for the free office suites LibreOffice and requires the Java Access Bridge package. Additionally, NVDA supports the WAI-ARIA standard for Accessible Rich Internet Applications, placing web applications within the reach of blind users.

Although at the moment it cannot be compared to the top commercial screen readers in the market, thanks to its Open Source framework is rapidly catching up and it can still be considered a good alternative solution.

Here is the link of the official website: and we’d like to also link to a very interesting article named “Using NVDA to Evaluate Web Accessibility”:

NVDA would be a good reference for all the people who are working with web accessibility, and obviously for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money buying  a commercial screen reader. You can simply download the portable version, run it and point your browser at the website that you’d like to test. This tool will certainly help you get an idea of whether your website can be easily read from people with sight disabilities.


Welcome to Accessible Web, an initiative that aims at making the Internet more accessible to everyone.

Accessible Web is about making websites usable by everyone, regardless of their platform or their capabilities. More specifically, Accessible Web aims at making sure that all Internet users can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web.

Accessible Web Objectives


  • Provide text alternatives for non-text content.
  • Provide captions and other alternatives for multimedia.
  • Create content that can be presented in different ways,
    including by assistive technologies, without losing meaning.
  • Make it easier for users to see and hear content.


  • Make all functionality available from a keyboard.
  • Give users enough time to read and use content.
  • Do not use content that causes seizures.
  • Help users navigate and find content.


  • Make text readable and understandable.
  • Make content appear and operate in predictable ways.
  • Help users avoid and correct mistakes.


  • Maximize compatibility with current and future user tools.

More information about the type of objectives we subscribe to can be found at the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”

— Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director