What we can learn from Norway about accessibility legislation

"One of the things I still think is important is the attitude and the knowledge about accessibility and diversity," said Malin Rygg, Head Of Department at the Norwegian Digitalisation Agency, discussing digital accessibility as part of our Accessibility Insights webinar series, hosted by Robin Christopherson MBE, Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet.

"Although we get more technology sometimes we see, what I call, 'needless exclusion' that one doesn't know about technology or doesn't use it and so forth. I think this is a very important part in Norway where the regulation is both for the public sector but also for the private sector," Malin said, "and one of the most important things here is when you put legislation in place you signal that this is a choice society has made. We want our digital solutions whether it be banking or newspapers etc, to be accessible to everybody."

Malin further discusses in the webinar the levers that still need to be pulled within digital accessibility. 

Highlights from the webinar

Malin also shared inclusivity developments and discussed topics including the changes in accessibility in the past decade, individual lawsuits versus active government enforcement, and future accessibility developments.

View the webinar in full below and download the transcript.

Webinar recording, transcript, podcast and slides

A transcript, slides used in the webinar, podcast, and follow up Q&A responses are available below.

For additional information read answers to frequently asked questions about AbilityNet webinars.

Questions and answers from the webinar

Malin has been able to provide her answers to questions posed by attendees during the webinar:

Question: How is Norway rolling out the Web Accessibility Directive? Number of Staff and types of competencies that they require to carry out the role of monitoring?

Answer: The web directive is delayed in Norway due to the EFTA-process. We expect it to be implemented next year. As we already have a regulation in place covering about the same WCAG 2.0 requirements, the delay is unfortunate but not determinative. We do however look forward to it being implemented as it will introduce the accessibility statement and new requirements through the WCAG 2.1.
In Norway we are opting for a standardized central accessibility statement, aiming to make it easier and more efficient both for the entities and us as a monitoring body. Through this solution we can gather data to monitor more efficiently. In the future we hope to develop it further to offer automated testing through this solution, and also to explore the use of AI for data analysis. In this way we hope to capitalize on the accessibility statement to make monitoring as efficient as possible.

For the simplified monitoring we aim to do this automatically with the use of tools. For the in depth monitoring we will have to rely on substantially manual testing for quite some time. The same applies for the sampling process and the data analysis and reporting afterwards. We do also aim to harmonize our monitoring efforts with our current inspections. Hence the number of staff required is estimated to be about 10 people – with competencies within testing, accessibility as a whole, law and data analysis. To digitize our processes and to develop our organization to be data driven and to handle the volume needed we will also need competencies within digitization and development

Q: How are Norwegian Universities accurately captioning all recordings in compliance with the European Web Directive as automatic captioning is not accurate and so is not compliant with WCAG 2.1?

A: The short answer is that they are not at the moment. A lot of Universities and schools are starting to caption their videos and webinars, but a lot of that is still depending on manual captioning and therefore a lot of videos are unfortunately not meeting the requirements due to cost. Different tools are being tested also in Norway, and they are rapidly getting better, but we are still not there yet that all videos are compliant whether it be the university sector or other sectors.

Q: Hello, my question is in two parts. Compliance and making archives of content accessible is a challenge in the UK. Are you facing that issue? The second part, document accessibility (Excel, PowerPoint, PDF) is essential to making accessibility comprehensive - and I’m thinking about the distance learning issues you’ve been talking about. Is that a challenge in Norway too?

A: Archives is a challenge everywhere – I think. Both in regards to video archives for captions and document archives. We have so far had the mind set from the enforcement side that the cost of making large archives compliant is to great, and exemptions are there for granted – until better technology is in place. Making documents like Excel, PPT and PDF accessible is a challenge too – but the programs are making progress making it easier to do if good guidance is provided.

Q: Do you have data on how many companies fail to make adjustments within the 12 week window, Malin?

A: So far none of the companies we’ve audited have failed to make the adjustments within the timeframe given. In the years leading up to 2020 the timeframe given has many times been longer, but we are now limited the timeframe to 12 weeks. Given that the requirements are minimum requirements set out in the legislation that have been in place now for 7 years, we think a 12 week deadline should be sufficient in most cases as long as the companies prioritizes correcting them. In our experience they do – most companies are very positive when audited and wishes to comply to offer better services to their users.

Further resources

Date of webinar: 
8 Dec 2020 - 13:00