9 – Accessibility


To fully meet the requirements of Article 9 of the Convention, both national and local government need to ensure that funds and systems are in place to provide the full accessibility of public transport which has not yet been achieved.


Ready access to and use of the internet is increasingly the key means of accessing information in UK society and disabled people are currently not able to use it on an equal basis with others. Key findings of this research published in 2013[1] include:

  • The biggest gap in ownership of communications services, between people with and without a disability is for internet access (55% and 83% respectively).
  • Around three in five (59%) disabled people live in a house with a PC, compared with just under four in five (79%) non-disabled people.

Accessibility of Websites

Most UK websites are not fully accessible and are therefore of limited or no practical use to many disabled people. European Commission research shows that across the EU only some 5% of public websites are accessible.[2] And while a recent European Commission study[3] claims that there has been some limited progress in this area, it also says that there remains ‘much room for improvement’.

ICT products and services

Due to European Union internal market rules, any law to require that ICT products (such as ATMs and ticket machines) be made accessible in the UK must be agreed at European level. RNIB therefore looks to the Government to support a requirement for accessible manufactured goods for disabled people in the long-promised “EU Accessibility Act”.[4]

Built environment—shared surfaces

The proliferation of so-called “shared surfaces” in the street environment is having an adverse impact on access for many groups of disabled people, including those who are blind and partially sighted.[5] Where a development is new or where existing facilities are being refurbished, equal access for everyone must be ensured at the point of construction. Designs should be drawn up in line with Article 9’s requirements before any further creation of “shared surfaces” in the street environment.

Sign language interpretation

Lack of BSL-English interpreting is a major issue effecting Deaf people’s access to internet, leisure, sport, culture, employment, public bodies, 999 emergency services, justice, health care and education. The European Universal Service Directive (article 26)[6] requires OFCOM to regulate electronic communications making caller location information available for such calls. Next Generation 112 aims to give full access to disabled users to emergency services consequently this is not yet available.

[1] OfCom, Disabled consumers’ ownership of communications services: A Consumer Experience report. http://www.west-info.eu/physical-differences-dont-matter-online/disabled_consumers_report/

[2] Measuring progress of eAccessibility in Europe (MeAC) study (2014),


[3] http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/news/study-assessing-and-promoting-e-accessibility

[4] See the article at this link which refers to EU Commissioner Reding’s intention to do this.

[5] A shared surface design involves removing the kerb that has traditionally separated areas for vehicles and pedestrians creating a shared surface street.

[6] Council Directive 2002/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002.