The European Parliament’s website has a lower accessibility rate than those of the EU’s national parliament websites, according to the report “Democracy, Digital Accessibility and the European Union,” launched by the European Disability Forum.

Despite its own claims, the European Parliament’s website barely received a passing grade of 55.8 out of 100, when ranked by observers. The websites of the national parliaments’ within the European Union scored far higher, but just three made it above the classification of ‘poor accessibility’ – Greece, Denmark and the Netherlands.

EU members are legally obligated to render all public sector websites accessible by 2021, thanks to the EU Web Accessibility Directive that came into force in mid-November 2016.

According to the European Disability Forum, in terms of web accessibility, various complaints from users with disabilities include the poor quality of how the pages are marked, a lack of captioning in the sites’ live streams, which render them useless for deaf or hard of hearing users.

Blind and partially sighted persons rely on assistive technology, but neither able to properly use the website. This results in an effective violation of the rights of EU citizens with disabilities.

“I find the websites overloaded. Navigation with screen readers, a type of software that reads aloud the information on the page and allows us to interact with it, is not easy. Recently, I could not select the language of the website with the screen reader I was using (Jaws 12). Next to the language selector, I found an unlabelled button. Also, the documents in PDF are often not accessible for the blind and partially sighted persons,” said Rafal Kanarek, a Polish person who frequently uses the website on his experience as a blind person.

Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the European Disability Forum, said that it is sad to see the inaccessibility of the European Parliament’s website, despite their recent call for “engagement in the European Elections”.

According to Vardakastanis, the European Parliament needs to lead by example and assure their website is open to all EU citizens.