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[Irl-dean] All this Directive stuff

Mark Magennis mark.magennis at ncbi.ie
Fri Feb 24 12:02:09 GMT 2006


Dear all,

In case anyone on the list is wondering what this Directive stuff is all
about (it's taken me a couple of years to reach even a limited level of
understanding) and why it's important, here's the situation in a
nutshell.

Up until now, in Ireland there has been little or no legislation that
enforces accessibility of ICT products and services, such as Web sites.
Even public policy has been very much on the level of lip-service. 

The situation is just about to change significantly. Gerry's post
highlighted the imminent signing into Irish law of two 'statutory
instruments' based on two recent EU public procurement Directives. An EU
Directive basically says to EU member states "you've all got to do this
now" and usually requires each state to pass or amend some law or other.
There are other levels of EU statements like Communications for example,
but a Directive is the biggie. It's an order.

These two statutory instruments will be signed into Irish law within the
next few weeks. After that, all public bodies will be legally bound to
follow certain procedures when procuring goods and services. These
procedures include taking accessibility for people with disabilities
into account. We hope (and hence Gerry's email to the Dept of Justice
and my follow-up email) that the instructions for taking accessibility
into account will be effective and unequivocal. However, we're talking
about legal language here, so it's difficult enough even to read the
things, let alone be sure what they can be said to mean in practice.

That's where my understanding ends (corrections or clarifications
welcome). Can someone explain to me, if a public body doesn't follow
this new law, what can we do about it? I know there was some hoo-ha
around the Disability Bill that perhaps it didn't actually allow anyone
to get sued for ignoring it. Is that situation any different with these
two statutory instruments?

If you want to keep up on the current situation, CFIT has a page about
Irish legislation and policy which we update whenever anything changes.
Go to www.cfit.ie/accessibility/accessibility_law_policy.html.

Mark






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