Skip to Content
Skip to Menu
Skip to Footer
A man sitting at a computer ready to learn about the upcoming EU's Accessibility Act
ADA Compliance

Understanding EU Digital Accessibility Laws: Implications for eCommerce Businesses

Rich Emanuel photo
Richard Emanuel
Post Published:
November 29, 2023
Post Updated:
January 4, 2024

Introduction to EU Digital Accessibility Legislation

The European Union (EU) has established key legislation to ensure digital accessibility, a vital aspect for organizations operating within its member states. With over 100 million individuals in the EU living with disabilities, these laws aim to create uniform accessibility standards across the region. The central legislations are the Web Accessibility Directive and the European Accessibility Act (EAA), both of which reference the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) set by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The Web Accessibility Directive

Introduced in 2016, the Web Accessibility Directive targets public sector agencies and entities engaged through public contracts. It mandates adherence to accessibility standards developed by the European Standards Organization (ESO), influenced by WCAG Level AA requirements. Key features include:

  • Obligation for entities to have an accessible website and mobile content.
  • Requirement to publish an accessibility statement.
  • Mechanisms for user feedback on accessibility issues.
  • Application to various digital interfaces, including payment terminals.

The European Accessibility Act: A Broader Scope

The EAA, passed in 2019, extends the reach of digital accessibility standards to private organizations. It necessitates compliance with standard 301 549, which incorporates WCAG 2.1 Level AA, and covers not just online content but also digital products like smartphones and e-readers. Key aspects include:

  • Enforcement of laws from July 2025.
  • Application to products and services available within EU member states, irrespective of the company's base location.

Compliance Necessities for E-Commerce

For eCommerce businesses, understanding and adhering to these regulations is crucial. While there are exemptions for some micro-enterprises, the Directive encourages all businesses to align with WCAG 2.1 standards. Compliance not only avoids legal repercussions but also offers significant benefits:

  • Enhances usability for all customers, not just those with disabilities.
  • Expands market reach and reinforces brand values.
  • Aligns with SEO best practices, potentially improving search rankings.

Common Accessibility Issues

Businesses should be aware of typical accessibility barriers like poor color contrast, inadequate semantic HTML, missing alt text from images on Shopify, keyboard accessibility issues, and excessive flashing content. Addressing these issues is essential to meet the Level A and Level AA standards of WCAG 2.1.

Steps to Ensure Compliance

E-commerce businesses should adopt a proactive approach to comply with EU digital accessibility laws:

  1. WCAG Testing: Utilize tools like AudioEye for automated and manual testing of content against WCAG standards.
  2. Issue Remediation: Implement both automated and manual solutions to address identified accessibility issues.
  3. Ongoing Strategy: Maintain regular testing and updating to ensure continued compliance.
  4. Accessibility Statement: Publish a detailed statement outlining the website's compliance status and initiatives.


For eCommerce businesses, the EU's digital accessibility laws are not just legal requirements but opportunities to enhance customer experience and broaden market reach. By aligning with WCAG standards, businesses can ensure compliance and contribute to a more inclusive digital environment.

Boost your Shopify store's SEO with the highest rated A.I ALT-Text, Meta Desc & Title  Generator

Elevate your store's SEO effortlessly with! Let our AI craft perfect ALT-Texts and Meta Content, boosting your search rankings.

Related Blogs