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#127 – Rian Rietveld on Understanding the European Accessibility Act and Its Impact on Websites

[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the Jukebox podcast from WP Tavern. My name is Nathan Wrigley.

Jukebox is a podcast, which is dedicated to all things WordPress. The people, the events, the plugins, the blocks, the themes, and in this case, understanding the European Accessibility Act and it’s impact on websites.

If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast, you can do that by searching for WP Tavern in your podcast player of choice, or by going to And you can copy that URL into most podcast players.

If you have a topic that you’d like us to feature on the podcast, I’m keen to hear from you and hopefully get you, or your idea, featured on the show. Head over to and use the form there.

So on the podcast today, we have Rian Rietveld. Rian is a web accessibility specialist from the Netherlands. As a freelance accessibility consultant, she works for NL Design Systems, the WordPress agency Level Level, and the form plugin Gravity Forms. She also teaches at the online learning platform, The A11Y Collective. She loves to share her knowledge at WordCamps meetups workshops and accessibility conferences worldwide.

Today, we talk about the accessibility requirements of the European Accessibility Act or EAA, which will be enforced on June the 28, 2025.

This legislation mandates that public service websites, products and services be accessible to all people. Rian clarifies the key aspects of the EAA, particularly focusing on websites, but we also touch upon other areas such as apps and PDFs.

She emphasizes the importance of ensuring accessibility, not only because of the legal requirements, but also due to the moral obligation to include individuals with disabilities who access the web using a variety of different mechanisms, such as screen readers and keyboards.

We discuss practical ways to achieve web accessibility. For example, using default accessible themes in vanilla WordPress, and writing accessible content.

Rian also highlights the need for constant monitoring and training within teams to maintain accessibility standards, especially focusing on keyboard accessibility and color contrast.

Financial incentives for making websites accessible are another point we talk about, as accessible websites can lead to increased revenue by catering to a broader audience, including the 20% of the population that relies on accessible websites.

Additionally Rian points out that an accessible website can significantly impact SEO and customer engagement.

Towards the end of the podcast we talk about the importance of having an accessibility statement for websites in Europe, the differences in the requirements between the EU and other parts of the world, and the benefits of hiring a professional to conduct an accessibility audit.

She also addresses exemptions for small companies, but notes the overall benefit of compliance for reaching more customers.

If you’re interested in the implications of the European Accessibility Act, and how to make your website more inclusive, this episode is for you.

If you’d like to find out more, you can find all of the links in the show notes by heading to, where you’ll find all the other episodes as well.

And so without further delay, I bring you Rian Rietveld.

I am joined on the podcast by Rian Rietveld. Hello, nice to meet you.

[00:04:03] Rian Rietveld: Thank you. for having me.

[00:04:05] Nathan Wrigley: You’re very welcome. So we are at WordCamp Europe 2024. We are in the city of Torino. This is my first interview, so it’s an absolute pleasure having you on the podcast. We’re going to talk a little bit about a topic which Rian is mentioning at this conference. Do you want to just tell us a little bit about who you are before we get stuck into accessibility?

[00:04:24] Rian Rietveld: My name is Rian Rietveld, and I’m from the Netherlands. I’m an accessibility expert. At the moment I’m freelance, and I’m working on various projects. One is the NL Design System that’s for the Dutch government, where I write documentation and guidelines for government websites, how to create accessible forms. And I also work for the WordPress agency Level Level, and for Gravity Forms, the WordPress forms plugin. And I give in-house trainings to companies.

[00:04:53] Nathan Wrigley: This is a topic which is probably, well, we’ll get into it, but there’s probably a whole load of legal stuff that we’ll end up talking about. And I just want to clear up at the beginning, do you have a background as a lawyer, or anything like that?

[00:05:04] Rian Rietveld: No, I am not a lawyer, and I want to emphasise that everything I say is from the accessibility point of view, and not from the legal point of view. If you have questions really about a legal implications for your company, hire an expert in legislation for accessibility.

[00:05:20] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, so I guess good to get out the way right at the beginning. Nevertheless, you’ve got a lot of expertise in this area. Your talk is called the European Accessibility Act. I would imagine we’ll probably call that EAA from this point. Well, I don’t know which is quicker, to be honest.

But the EAA, the European Accessibility Act is a piece of legislation, which I think is coming around in the year 2025. It seems like it’s a very big and important piece of legislation for people working with websites. Do you just want to tell us a little bit about what it is? Just what it is to begin with, and then we’ll get into who it affects, and how it affects people.

[00:05:55] Rian Rietveld: In 2016, the EU member states agreed to make public service websites accessible. For example, government websites. And in 2019, they agreed on the directive to make also products and services accessible. And each member state has to implement that directive into their own legislation.

In 2022, each member state must already have that put in their law. So actually, that legislation should already be implemented with the member states. The Dutch government only did that two months ago. Some countries didn’t even do that yet. Other countries have that really nicely in order. So it depends a bit on the member state, but they all agreed that it will be enforced in 2025. June 28th, 2025. So it’s in one year, and then it will be enforced.

And what they agree on, that all services and products need to be accessible. And that’s a whole bunch of products like computers, operating systems, ATMs, ticket machines. And for services, it’s websites, e-commerce, the 111 emergency number. It’s a list of products and services that need to be accessible for people with a disability.

[00:07:14] Nathan Wrigley: So it’s not bound, this legislation is very much not bound just to websites, although that’s obviously our area of expertise. It’s any sort of interface, so an ATM is a perfect example. You know, you want to go and get money out of the machine, and obviously if you have an issue which prevents you doing that in the, and I’m putting air quotes, the normal way, that machine needs to be, by 2025, June 2025, that machine has to be accessible. And we can explore what that might mean for an ATM, as well as a website in a moment. But that’s the moment. That’s the day it’s got to be done?

[00:07:44] Rian Rietveld: It should already be a law in the countries, but then it will be enforced. So that’s the deadline.

[00:07:49] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, so the expectation is that people are working towards this, and it’s not like you start thinking about it in June 2025. Yeah, it needs to be done. That work needs to be finished, because at that point the enforcement can happen. And we can get on to the enforcement, actually, let’s sort of pivot to that.

So we’re in Italy at the moment, which is a member of the EU. I come from the UK, which made a decision several years ago to leave the EU. And I imagine there’ll be a bunch of people listening to this, I don’t know, in Australia, in New Zealand, in India, in America, does it affect them in any way?

If you’re an ATM manufacturer, I guess you might be shipping ATM machines to Italy. But certainly with a website, if I have a website which is based in the US, well, there’s nothing preventing me, as a user in the EU, from accessing that website. So where do the boundaries lie? What is the jurisdiction? Is there a boundary? Does it neatly encapsulate the EU, or do we need to worry wherever we are?

[00:08:49] Rian Rietveld: Well, that’s the web. The web is worldwide. So if you sell services or products to an EU member state, then your website or product needs to be accessible.

[00:08:59] Nathan Wrigley: You specifically said if you sell, so you used the word sell there. What if you have a website which is, oh I don’t know, let’s just say you have a blog, for example, or you have a brochure website, which is nothing to do with selling a thing. It’s just a hobby of some kind. Let’s call it that.

[00:09:16] Rian Rietveld: Of course, but you don’t have to. If you sell items, services, or products, then you need to be accessible.

[00:09:22] Nathan Wrigley: So it’s bound up with the transaction of money. If money is moving from one point to another point, and any of that touches the EU, then you need to be compliant by June 2025.

[00:09:34] Rian Rietveld: Yes.

[00:09:35] Nathan Wrigley: What I’m taking from that then is that, if you are an international company, and you are selling anything into the EU, you can’t ignore this, even though you are in a country where the jurisdiction, if you like, you might think it doesn’t affect you.

How could that jurisdiction possibly affect you though? So for example, let’s say that I am an American company, and I’m selling things, and Europeans are buying them. What possible thing could the EU do to an American citizen? Is there some relationship in law that you know of? And again, I’ll just emphasise that I know you’re not a lawyer.

[00:10:07] Rian Rietveld: Well, that’s the big question, nobody knows yet.

[00:10:09] Nathan Wrigley: Interesting.

[00:10:10] Rian Rietveld: And what will happen, will it be a sue culture like in the US. Or will it be someone complaining, and take it to a local court? I have no idea. That’s kind of a tin of worms, because each country implements the legislation on a bit different way. For example, Germany has a very strict legislation. Maybe other people only stick to what is needed. It’s a tin of worms. And how it’ll be implemented, and how it’ll be enforced, we just have to see what happens.

[00:10:38] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, I guess it will be interesting. Do you know though if people are lining up? How can I describe this without sounding controversial. In certain parts of the world, there’s this phrase which I hear from time to time and it’s ambulance chasing lawyers. And it’s the idea that lawyers find things where there’s a problem, and they go after them, maybe not for ethical reasons, or moral reasons, or whatever it may be, but it’s just because there’s a pot of money that they could get. Do you have any intuition as to whether lawyers in the EU are kind of ramping up their posture in terms of the EAA.

[00:11:11] Rian Rietveld: That’s not a culture in Europe at all, because for government website you need at the moment have an accessibility statement where you say, I’m aiming for, for example, the web content accessibility guidelines, version 2.1, level AA. This is what still needs to be done. This is the roadmap, and this is where you can file an issue. That’s an accessibility statement. And you already put what’s wrong on your website. And that will be hard to do in the US, because that gives a lawyer like a checklist.

But if you have a good support system in place. First, someone needs to complain, and you need to respond on that and say, okay, I’m going to fix that. But if you ignore complaints and just say, oh, there’s disabled people, I’m not interested in that. That will trigger a lawsuit I think.

But in Europe, you have to have an accessibility statement explaining what still needs to be done. And that’s a big issue I think for US companies, because they legally cannot do that.

[00:12:13] Nathan Wrigley: So does that statement need to be published online, or it be a document that you just have in a file, in a drawer gathering dust?

[00:12:21] Rian Rietveld: It has to be on your website, an accessibility statement. Yeah, it gives information about, what are you doing? What are you aiming for? What are you working on? And also, how people can report an issue. And that’s important if you are a client and you cannot use someone’s website, and you have the courtesy to actually tell that, okay, I cannot use your website because I have this, and this issue. You have to take these people seriously.

[00:12:43] Nathan Wrigley: So if you have to put that online, presumably it’s possible to go and find guidance about websites, in order to start ticking off those boxes, to be able to say, yeah, we have done that one, and we have done that one, but we have yet to begin this process. Those kind of documents are available, easy to access. Do you have a URL which you can just pop out of your head to do with that, where you would go and find those kind of things?

[00:13:07] Rian Rietveld: If you have a website, you let an accessible expert or firm do an audit. And in the audit you state what is wrong, right, and what is wrong. And that is a document you can link to. Is that what you mean?

[00:13:19] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, I think so. So you are advocating that, if you are not entirely sure, in other words, it sounds like, if you don’t have a legal team who are up on this, and understand all of this, you are saying hire a professional.

[00:13:31] Rian Rietveld: Yes, please. Well, you have to do an audit by a professional. And a professional has to do an audit on your website, as a basement measurement, and you work from there. You fix the issues from there. And maybe if all the issues are fixed, you can redo the audit, and publish that on your website. But it gives you a state of the accessibility of your website at that moment.

[00:13:52] Nathan Wrigley: So I’m imagining a, almost like a tick sheet with, there’s this, and this, and this, and I’ve to tick that, but I haven’t ticked that. Are there certain things on that tick sheet, things that you need to do in a certain order? And again, obviously you know the caveat about you not being a lawyer, and what have you. But, are there certain things that are more important? Can you get away with just ticking one box? Do the very tiniest amount, and still say, well, look we’ve made a start, it’s fine.

[00:14:18] Rian Rietveld: No, you have to say, I’m aiming for WCAG, it’s a web content and accessibility guidelines, version 2.1 AA, or 2.2 AA. And then you have to meet a couple of success criteria. Your images have alternative text, your videos have captioning. You have to meet all those to comply to WCAG, and to comply to the European Accessibility Act requirements.

So if you fail some, you need to fix those to comply completely. There are not many websites that comply a hundred percent. There’s always something missing. So it’s utopia to say, oh, my website is perfectly accessible. Website is a work in progress.

[00:14:58] Nathan Wrigley: So, given that businesses can be one person, or they could be 50,000 people. Does any of that factor in? So if I am an individual employee, I am selling something, so I know that I have to take this seriously. Does the size of the business in any way affect how much I have to do by a certain date?

Because I can imagine a company of the size of, oh I don’t know, let’s say Amazon, or Google, or something along those lines, where they’ve got gigantic resources, and they can really fairly, straightforwardly put teams of people onto this project. I’m kind of imagining, in a fair and just world, there would be an expectation that they do more than the one person business, who just started up recently, and has got a million other things to do to keep their business going. Is there any sense of that, or is it, no, it’s a absolute flat level playing field, we all have to do the same?

[00:15:49] Rian Rietveld: Thankfully, there’s an exception for small companies. If you have less than 10 employees, and you have a revenue less than 2 million euros, you don’t need to comply. You can, of course, because it’s very good for your revenue, but you don’t need to comply to that rules.

[00:16:05] Nathan Wrigley: I hadn’t written this question down, but that was an interesting thing that you just said. You just said that it will help your revenue, or it’s good for your revenue. And I’ve heard this being talked about before, that the people out there online, who require an accessible website, that the money in their pockets, the size of that cohort of peoples, the finances that they’ve got available is pretty large. And so if you do this work, even if you don’t need to, it could be very, very economically good for your business. So I’m just going to throw that back. Do you have anything to say about that?

[00:16:37] Rian Rietveld: Oh, I totally agree. And the population is getting older and older, so more and more people need an accessible website. Good color contrast, a logical order of the information. I think, if you build for everyone, then you just have more customers.

About 20% of all people need some kind of accessibility. So if you just throw away 20% of your people, of your customers, that’s a large amount of number. And those are what you said, people who have money and want to buy something from you, and you just block the door for them.

[00:17:10] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that’s interesting. So, I think we’re all carrying around a mobile phone. We’ve all got this device in our pockets, which enables us to buy anything at any moment. And if you are closing the door, it’s literally like having a shop with a front door, but you’ve locked the door, and closed the windows, and pulled the curtains, and nobody can peer inside.

[00:17:28] Rian Rietveld: What I found interesting is that there is a lot of money in SEO. You want all those people coming to your website, and then you say to 20%, okay, you are not allowed. So you throw away 20% of your SEO budget.

[00:17:42] Nathan Wrigley: Really interesting. So 20% would be the kind of figure that we’re playing with. So there’s not only a legal obligation to do it, and we can talk about whether there’s a moral obligation in a moment. But there is definitely a financial incentive to doing this. And that, I think, is a piece of the conversation which doesn’t often get raised. And if, by doing a series of tasks, and it may be hard, and it may be arduous, but if you get these tasks complete, you may see an uptick in your revenue. So that’s kind of interesting.

[00:18:08] Rian Rietveld: Yeah, it is part of your quality. You want to make your website responsive, secure, and good performance. That are all things that make a good website. Also add accessibility. It’s part of the quality of your work.

[00:18:20] Nathan Wrigley: Is there a reason this kind of legislation hasn’t happened many years ago? Is it that the people who are now having an expectation that they can get online, did they just not have a voice until more recently? Because I can imagine that, if you require an accessible version of the internet, in the past years, you just wouldn’t have used the internet.

And so you didn’t have a way to say, well, okay, this bit doesn’t work, this bit doesn’t work, because the whole thing was just broken. So you never got to see inside, you never got to peel back the curtain, and see what amazing things there are in the internet. So it’s kind of curious to me how we’ve got to 2025, and we’re still talking about this subject. We could have tackled it a decade or more ago, probably.

[00:19:03] Rian Rietveld: Well, it’s so hard to even get the government accessible. That took years, and years, and years. And now, even in the Netherlands, about 3% of the website for the government is totally accessible. The rest has still issues. It’s hard work because it needs training, it needs awareness, it needs people who decide about the finances to give the resources for training and for development. It’s a question of awareness, and that’s getting now better and better.

[00:19:30] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, I guess if you are, so I’ll take the example of a wheelchair user. If you are standing on the street, and you see somebody using a wheelchair, and they want to get into a physical shop, and there are some steps, and nothing but steps, you see the problem. It’s right there in front of your eyes. This person cannot get into that shop. That’s a disaster. So we built the ramps. But this is kind of hidden.

[00:19:53] Rian Rietveld: Yes. When you are young and everything works, your body, you just test a website with a mouse and your eyes, and you say, okay, it works. And you have no idea that someone who gets the website read out loud, has no clue about what’s happening, or uses the website with a keyboard, cannot open the menu, for example. It works for the mouse, it works for you.

Only recently in the Netherlands, accessibility is taught on the schools for developers and designers. That’s only now starting. So everybody has to teach themselves who is a developer at the moment, or gets training, or maybe companies train their people. It’s only starting at the moment.

[00:20:32] Nathan Wrigley: So we had decision makers who didn’t make these decisions, plus we had people coming into the industry who just didn’t know. But now we’re at the beginning of that journey. This is part of the education, so hopefully, yeah okay.

[00:20:44] Rian Rietveld: Yes, education is the key, I think. We need to educate developers, designers, and also managers.

[00:20:49] Nathan Wrigley: So with the best will in the world, even if 50% of the people, 60%, 70%, 80%, whatever it may be, of the people listen to this podcast, and they say, yep, I’m going todo all the right things. There’s definitely going to be a proportion of people who say, leave it till tomorrow, we’ll leave it for another year. We’ll never get caught, we a tiny fish in a big pond of websites.

What can the EU actually do? And when I wrote the question out, I wrote, what stick can the EU use? We have this carrot and stick approach in the English language, where you hit something with a stick to get it to behave, or you offer it a carrot, a treat if you like, to get it to behave. So, is there any of that? Is there any stick that the EU can bring to bear? And also, are there any carrots?

[00:21:30] Rian Rietveld: Well, that’s the big question. I cannot look in the future. So, what will happen in 2025? Everyone in the accessibility world is looking at, so what will happen? We don’t know. Will there be a strict legislation? Will nothing happen, like with the GDPR? Oh, panic, and then nothing happens. Or will we actually be enforced, and will there be fines for companies? I don’t know.

I hope this will be a game changer, because there’s a lot of publicity on this. And there’s no easy, quick fix. Like the GDPR, you put a cookie banner, and you’re done. Rework your website, you need to rebuild your website, look at your work. And that’s a lot more work than just adding a cookie banner. And if there will be implications, I hope so.

[00:22:11] Nathan Wrigley: Do you know if on the books, in theory, there’s a stick? Is there anything, and again, I know you are not a lawyer, but do you know if there’s anything in the legislation which could be used? Whether or not it will be used aggressively or, you know, more of a soft touch.

[00:22:26] Rian Rietveld: Well, it depends on the member states. Each member state can decide, in their own legislation, what the fine will be, what the stick will be. So, not every country has decided on what to do yet. Some countries have, and some other countries none. Ireland, the law in Ireland that went viral in the accessibility world, you can go to jail. Yes, you can get fined and go to jail. Other countries may have no implications at all. If you can go to jail in Ireland, it may be not really happening, but it’s in the legislation.

[00:22:56] Nathan Wrigley: It’d be curious to see, in the same way that financial laws, you know, if you can move your business to a country where there’s very little tax, we know what happens. The countries, there’s lots of companies, they suddenly set up an office there, and they become, I wonder if the same thing would happen. All the companies move away from Ireland from the risk of going to prison, or something like that.

Okay, tell me about this then. So we know that you have until June 2025 to get this work done. Tell us about the more sort of moral aspect. And what I’m talking about there is, it’s going to be difficult to do this because we’re an audio podcast, and really it would be nice to sort of see some of this stuff on a screen, but we’ll just have to use words to describe it. Is there a kind of, a moral aspect to this? Can you describe what it may, in some limited circumstance, look like, or feel like, or sound like for people on the web?

And I know that’s really hard to encapsulate. But if we took the example of somebody who is completely blind. So that’s something I think we can all understand. You know, if you’ve got perfect sight, you can close your eyes, and you can hold a mouse in your hand, and you can then try to imagine what the internet would be like. And already, just in my own mind, I’m picturing it’s a complete black box. I can’t see it anymore. What are the ways that people are accessing the web without normal, air quotes, mouse, keyboard, eyes, ears, format?

[00:24:16] Rian Rietveld: There’s so many different ways. Some people are deaf and blind, so they depend on a braille display. They get all the text in pins, braille letters. Some people use the keyboard only, and that actually is a requirement. You should be able to use a website with a keyboard only. And some people use a stick in their mouth, if they cannot use their hands. And they can access keyboard, or display by that.

Some people have a straw in their mouth, and they can use the straw to blow in that, and puff it’s called. And that, way it’s a zero and one, so that way you can use the website also. Stephen Hawkin, he used electronic device on his chin. He used a device on his cheek, where he can, just by moving one muscle, operate his voice control. There are people who speak to the computer without any hands. So many different ways. And it only works if you code your website properly.

[00:25:12] Nathan Wrigley: Right, that’s the key point. All of that bit that you just said, if you just listen to that, you would think, oh, well it’s fine then, people can put a stick in their mouth, and they can use that, or they can blow, or they can have something attached to their face, or they can speak.

But of course that’s not it. It’s that, if the website isn’t built to enable those kind of technologies, you are faced with something border lining on, just massively infuriating to use, impossible to use. So it’s not like, oh, I’ve got this assistive technology, suddenly everything is perfect. You have to rebuild the website so that the assistive technology can get through the website, and you’ve got clear markers, and it’s all built correctly.

[00:25:52] Rian Rietveld: Actually, the web by itself, HTML, what the website is made of, is accessible. All the extra stuff they put into it, making it work only with the mouse, all the extra effects, that makes it inaccessible. So learn HTML properly. If you can use HTML well, you already have a lot of accessibility for free.

[00:26:13] Nathan Wrigley: So again, this is a question that I didn’t have written down, but it’d be interesting to explore. If you were just using pure and exact HTML, everything would work. But we’re at a conference where we’re using a CMS, and I just have the question, how does WordPress do with any of this? Is it out of the box?

So, okay, I’m not imagining that we’re throwing a bunch of plugins in. Ignore that, because obviously that would introduce a million and one different ways of making it inaccessible, or accessible. But if we just took vanilla WordPress, and installed directly from, and we were to write posts, and pages, and what have you with that, with just the core blocks, how are we doing?

[00:26:54] Rian Rietveld: If you use the default teams, 21, 22, that kind of themes, those are all accessible. If you use those with vanilla WordPress, you’re pretty good.

Another thing is the content. You need to write also accessible content. Good heading structure, don’t call all the links, click here. Add alternative text to your images. If you do that too, you can create an accessible website. It’s perfectly possible.

[00:27:20] Nathan Wrigley: Now the interesting thing there is, it feels like we just had a conversation where, a person without accessibility needs has a WordPress website, and they’re creating the content for people who have accessibility needs. How does it work the other way around? How does WordPress behave as an editing, content creating experience for people with accessibility needs? I think that’s going to be a harder question to answer.

[00:27:44] Rian Rietveld: It needs work. I will keep it to that.

[00:27:46] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, okay. There’s work to be done.

[00:27:47] Rian Rietveld: There’s work to be done. And we have an excellent accessibility team, and they are doing a great job. They need more people.

[00:27:55] Nathan Wrigley: Okay. I mean, we’ve thrown in, in the last five or six years, a very complicated, well, not complicated once you’ve understood it. It’s a complicated editing experience. There’s lots of moving parts and there’s menus over here, and there’s options, which if you click in something, other things appear, and what have you, and it’s all very visual. My interpretation of that is entirely visual. I move my mouse, and it’s complicated. So there’s work to be done, the long and the short of it.

We didn’t really touch on this, but I do want to slightly. Is your website ever going to be complete? Even if you are Google, and you have this giant team, where you’ve got people, you know, a hundred people on this every day, for all of the things that they do. Is this journey ever complete, or is this shifting sand? Is it that the legislation is changing all the time, or there’s just too many things to do?

And with that, are you allowed to, I know we had this sort of tick box exercise, are there some things that you could recommend to begin with if you’re on this journey? So let’s take the first bit. Can you ever say that website over there is complete?

[00:28:57] Rian Rietveld: Well, yes you can, but a website is evolving. New content is added, new features are added, and all those need to be checked all the time. If you have a new content manager and they don’t know about adding alternative texts, it breaks your accessibility.

[00:29:13] Nathan Wrigley: Oh, good point, yeah.

[00:29:14] Rian Rietveld: So everybody on the team must stay focused and trained. If you have a new content manager, train them in accessibility. If you add content, then the accessibility is vulnerable because it needs to be added accessible.

[00:29:28] Nathan Wrigley: Sorry, just to interrupt you. That’s interesting because I’m imagining a site that, let’s say I’ve got a site and it’s 10 years old, and I’ve got 10,000 blog posts, and all of them contain, let’s say video because you mentioned that videos ought to have captions. Do I need to go back and do all of those 10,000 videos?

[00:29:44] Rian Rietveld: That’s interesting because you can, in your accessibility statement, say, okay, from January 1st 2024, I’m going to add captioning to all my videos, and then do that also. And before that, if you need content that is added to the video, or if you need captioning on a video, or need the content on an older video, email us and we’ll provide it to you. So you don’t have to go through all that content, and go through the videos, and the alternative text. But if someone needs that content, you must be able to provide it.

[00:30:18] Nathan Wrigley: Okay. So we know that our website really, in the real world, the website’s never going to be complete if you are, like most people, are tweaking the website, and you’ve got people creating content, and new pages. So you’ve got to be constantly mindful.

And also, I think we’ve learned that you can pick your journey a little bit. You can say, okay, I’m going to tackle this piece of the jigsaw, and this piece. And treat it as a journey.

[00:30:41] Rian Rietveld: That’s the roadmap you’re taking. And first start with keyboard accessibility. That’s a main feature. If your keyboard accessibility is okay, it works with almost all assistive technology. And then go through color contrast. And that’s the easiest thing. If your color contrast isn’t right, it’s just tweaking your CSS. That’s a quick fix. Go for the quick fixes, and for the keyboard accessibility. I think that’s the best way to approach the roadmap.

[00:31:07] Nathan Wrigley: That’s a good way to start. Okay, that’s perfect.

Does this affect anything apart from websites? So I’m imagining situations where, oh I don’t know, let’s say that I’m sending out email and it’s nothing to do with my website, it’s a third party piece of software, or I’ve got, I don’t know, a CRM system, where customers can log in and see their orders and things like that. So it’s outside of the website. Does all of this need to be accessible? So we’ve been talking about websites, and at the beginning we began with ATMs, so I’m guessing the answer is yes, if anybody can interact with that thing.

[00:31:38] Rian Rietveld: If a client can do that.

[00:31:40] Nathan Wrigley: But there might not be any money changing hands with that thing. So I’m imagining the website, let’s say that you’re a website and you’re selling things, you’ve got a company with enough employees, you are based in Europe, and you are selling things. So we know you are definitely, the European Accessibility Act, we know that you are under that. But if you are, I don’t know, sending out email, and there’s no transaction in that email, it’s not anything to do with sales, but your company is selling things, how does that work?

[00:32:07] Rian Rietveld: Well, emails are not really mentioned.

[00:32:08] Nathan Wrigley: Interesting.

[00:32:09] Rian Rietveld: It’s a good way to do it because it’s communication with your client, and you better make sure your client understands your message. So that’s good part of your best practice, of your good practice.

[00:32:19] Nathan Wrigley: But it’s not specifically tied into the legislation. In theory, you could avoid it. That’s kind of fascinating that that never got pulled in.

[00:32:25] Rian Rietveld: In websites?

[00:32:26] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, just websites. That’s fascinating.

[00:32:28] Rian Rietveld: And apps, and also electronic documents. If you have PDFs on your website, they need to be accessible too. And that’s a good reason to get rid of your PDFs.

[00:32:36] Nathan Wrigley: Okay, thank you. Would you just tell us a little bit about where we can find you on the internet? Obviously, you are very keen on this subject. I’m guessing that part of your business might be to do with this as well. So just tell us a little bit about where we can find you, and what kind of things you are doing.

[00:32:50] Rian Rietveld: You can find me on I’m doing consultancy and I write documentation. I also train people for web accessibility. If you want an online training, you can go to the A11Y Collective, that’s We have a couple of online trainings in web accessibility there. There is, for the US WebAIM,, and that’s a large website with excellent information about accessibility.

Also on, that’s from the British government, they publish excellent information about accessibility. And if you Google, well, there are many, many companies that provide accessibility consultancy, and also training. Deque is one of them. So there are plenty of them about.

[00:33:37] Nathan Wrigley: I will make sure that I dig all of those URLs out, and I will paste them on the WP Tavern page, so you’ll be able to find them there, along with a complete transcript of this episode.

[00:33:47] Rian Rietveld: That will be great. Yeah.

[00:33:48] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, you are very welcome. So thank you Rian Rietveld. I appreciate you chatting to me on the podcast today. I hope that you have a good WordCamp EU.

[00:33:55] Rian Rietveld: Thank you.

On the podcast today we have Rian Rietveld.

Rian is a web accessibility specialist from the Netherlands. As a freelance accessibility consultant she works for NL Design System, the WordPress agency Level Level and the form plugin Gravity Forms. She also teaches at the online learning platform The A11Y Collective. She loves to share her knowledge on WordCamps, meetups, workshops and accessibility conferences worldwide.

Today we talk about the accessibility requirements of the European Accessibility Act or EAA, which will be enforced by June 28th, 2025. This legislation mandates that public service websites, products, and services be accessible to all people.

Rian clarifies the key aspects of the EAA, particularly focusing on websites, but we also touch upon other areas such as apps, and PDFs. She emphasises the importance of ensuring accessibility not only because of the legal requirements but also due to the moral obligation to include individuals with disabilities who access the web using a variety of different mechanisms such as screen readers and keyboards.

We discuss practical ways to achieve web accessibility, for example using default accessible themes in vanilla WordPress and writing accessible content. Rian also highlights the need for constant monitoring and training within teams to maintain accessibility standards, especially focusing on keyboard accessibility and colour contrast.

Financial incentives for making websites accessible are another point we talk about, as accessible websites can lead to increased revenue by catering to a broader audience, including the 20% of the population that relies on accessible websites. Additionally, Rian points out that an accessible website can significantly impact SEO and customer engagement.

Towards the end of the podcast, we talk about the importance of having an accessibility statement for websites in Europe, the differences in the requirements between the EU and other parts of the world, and the benefits of hiring a professional to conduct an accessibility audit. She also addresses exemptions for small companies, but notes the overall benefit of compliance for reaching more customers.

If you’re interested in understanding the implications of the European Accessibility Act and how to make your websites more inclusive, this episode is for you.

Useful links

NL Design Systems

Level Level agency

Gravity Forms

WCAG guidelines

Rian’s website

The A11Y Collective


Guidance and tools for digital accessibility from