Are you ready for the Accessibility Act for e-commerce? What you need to do before 2025.

Starting in 2025, new laws (EAA) will be implemented in all EU countries, requiring digital accessibility. In addition to becoming the legal standard, it is crucial for e-commerce brands to prioritise making their websites more accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities.

First and foremost - from a moral standpoint, it's clear: making your brand's online content accessible to people with disabilities is the right thing to do. By doing this, you contribute to improving the lives of literally millions of individuals. As digitalisation in society is going fast and was accelerated further by the COVID-19 pandemic, the surge in online shopping indicates a significant shift in consumer behaviour, and accessibility online is a subject that has gained higher significance. Putting in the work to achieve WCAG compliance (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), the widely acknowledged global standard for digital compliance is an investment that positions brands for future success. It's both design and code that make it accessible.

It also makes good financial sense for e-commerce businesses. Collectively, the disability community is the single largest minority group, with 1 in every 4 individuals experiencing a significant disability. In other words, a large proportion of people need a website that is built and designed with an accessible mindset to get the same experience as a person who lacks some form of disability. Not to mention other groups of people who also stand to benefit from digital accessibility, including people with hardware restrictions or limited connectivity.

Accessibility improvements hold huge potential to remove barriers to completing transactions, improve user experience, and enhance SEO rankings. In simple terms, it's a win-win for your users and your bottom line.

The European Accessibility Act (EAA) comes into effect on June 28, 2025, and It will impact all e-commerce brands based in the European Union as well as websites primarily targeting audiences in the EU. In the United States, not meeting accessibility standards has led to increased ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) lawsuits for several years. The consequences can be severe and costly, catching many brands off guard. While 2025 may seem far away, it's not easy to be compliant, and many brands have a long journey until they do. Many sites have thousands of issues, both on the brand, design, content, and technical levels. While third-party automation tools might solve some of these issues, they necessarily don't make a site compliant, so no matter the route taken, starting the journey to be more compliant early on is beneficial.

Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It provides general information for e-commerce businesses about legislation and approaches, but it doesn't give specific legal advice. If you're unsure about legal requirements or compliance, Grebban recommends seeking legal expertise.

While full compliance is essential, it doesn’t mean you must invest in accessibility as a large project all at once. Most brands need to do it as a journey, just like they did with GDPR. It affects both processes, technical abilities and design choices.

Simply put, to avoid having a mountain of work and investments to do when the deadline for EAA draws near - start now. Steps can be taken today to increase usability and get you closer to compliance, and we can help you with that. We also understand that navigating the waters of accessibility upgrades can be daunting. So, let us guide you through the first steps of the process. Let us do a roadmap together.

The first step is determining which accessibility deficiencies exist in your e-commerce today. There are different ways to map these out, but there is, in general, only one way to collect all the deficiencies that exist both in the code and in the design. It is a so-called manual audit, where an accessibility expert goes through the site's various page types and with the help of various tests and reviews finds out in which areas the site is inaccessible. However, identifying design errors is usually a relatively low-effort, high-impact approach. A manual design review is a cost-efficient way to identify easily avoidable errors such as contrasts, text sizing, touch space, etc. Grebban can help you with this audit.

Knowing the issues is the first step. Now, you need to start solving them, implementing design fixes, and improving your codebase to support the accessibility requirements outlined in the audit better. In terms of design, this means creating an accessible design system and implementing all design fixes on the existing site. Even though this might be the most minor investment in accessibility, it might be one of the most notable impacts on the user experience for most people. It makes it easier to consume information, navigate and use UI elements, and improve usability. Web development for accessibility in e-commerce means creating a codebase that supports assistive technologies and diverse user needs. This includes optimising markup, improving keyboard navigation, providing alternative text for non-text content, managing focus properly, and following accessibility guidelines like WCAG. It can also be to implement 3rd party services that help users with special needs to get a better customer experience.

The work with accessibility is never finished, it needs to be followed up continuously. Every time new products, content or features are published on the e-commerce, there is a risk that inaccessible content will appear on the site. Therefore, it is important to keep track of the site's accessibility by carrying out smaller manual audits now and then in limited areas to ensure that the site is still accessible or with the help of automatic testing tools. It is also important to educate everyone who works with the site, such as e-commerce managers, web editors, etc., to minimise the risk of inaccessible content appearing on the site in the future. It's an ongoing work, making changes to many processes and stakeholders.

While being fully compliant is important, investing in accessibility doesn't have to be overwhelming. By creating a roadmap plan for accessibility initiatives, you demonstrate a proactive approach, which will very much be to your advantage regarding legal aspects. This strategy works well for our subscription-based format, making integrating them into design and development cycles easier and preventing overwhelming your resources.

Key takeaways

  • While we hope this blog post has been helpful, we understand that prioritising e-commerce accessibility can be challenging. If you're worried about the cost, consider the fines for not complying with the Accessibility Act (EAA). Trust us, it will seem much cheaper.
  • Accessibility compliance is now more important than ever - we can't stress this enough. Seek compliance to reduce legal risks and reach more customers on your e-commerce store.
  • EAA compliance should be ongoing, not just a one-time project. Don't let the time and money you've invested go to waste.
  • The best thing to do is to start right away. 2025 might seem far away, but it's just one year out. E-commerce stores that aren't optimised often have many problems that take a long time to fix. Begin your journey today to prevent any delays.
  • That being said, there's a huge opportunity in the market of over a billion people with disabilities and $8 trillion in spending power. By making accessibility the norm in e-commerce, brands can expand their business and break down barriers while promoting inclusivity that can change lives.

Grebban can help you find the right route and roadmap for Accessibility Act compliance before 2025. Contact us to learn more.


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