The Stanca Act, the Italian digital accessibility law, was an important milestone for web accessibility, helping increase access to information online and making public institutions more inclusive. Passed in 2004, the Stanca Act also helped pave the way for additional regulations and standards on digital accessibility throughout Europe.
In this post, we’ll explain the provisions of the Stanca Act, how it relates to other European digital accessibility regulations, and what your organization needs to know to meet these regulations.
What Is the Stanca Act?
The Stanca Act, also known as Law 4/2004, upholds the right to access online information and services regardless of disability. The law is named after Lucio Stanca, a member of parliament and the former Italian Minister for Innovation and Technologies and is closely in line with equality principles established in the Italian Constitution.
It applies to public sector organizations, such as government agencies, municipalities, and regional administrations. It also applies to private businesses where public entities have a majority stake, privately-run service providers acting on behalf of any public body, and companies with an average annual revenue of more than 500 million euros.
What Does the Stanca Act Require?
All organizations that are required to follow Italy’s accessibility law, must ensure:
- Websites and mobile apps meet WCAG 2.1 Level AA requirements.
- Digital assets follow technical standards outlined in EN 301 549.
- The company publishes an annual Accessibility Statement disclosing the accessibility status of each website and application.
How Web Accessibility Laws in Italy Have Evolved
Since its enactment, the Stanca Law has changed to provide more guidance on accessibility standards, expand accessibility requirements to some private sector companies, and create penalties for non-compliance.
These updates to the law include:
- The Italian government set technical web accessibility standards in 2005 based on the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
- These standards were later updated in 2016, requiring public entities to comply with WCAG 2.0 Level AA.
- A 2012 update was to require mobile applications follow the law’s guidelines as well.
- In 2016, Italy introduced penalties and fines for non-compliance. The web accessibility law was expanded in 2021 to include the private sector websites and applications noted above.
While the law in Italy has helped improve accessibility, enforcement has been inconsistent and some organizations have been slow to make the required changes. A study published in 2020 showed that despite laws requiring an accessible Italy, public universities were struggling to make required changes.
Stanca and EAA: Differences and Similarities
The Stanca Act and the European Accessibility Act (EAA) both aim to improve the accessibility of digital assets and services. Both are influential laws in their own right, as the EAA is far reaching, while the Stanca Law is considered an influential early law codifying digital accessibility. Here are some of the similarities and key differences:
- The Stanca Act and EAA both mandate web accessibility for people with disabilities and set compliance timelines.
- They both require that the public sector websites and applications created by public entities comply with accessibility standards based on WCAG 2.1.
- Failure to comply can result in penalties in some cases under both these laws.
- The Stanca law only applies to public sector organizations and certain private businesses in Italy, while the EAA covers public and private sector organizations across the European Union.
- The Stanca Act was enacted in 2004, while the EAA went into effect in 2019, with member states given until June 28, 2022, to integrate it into their local laws (more on this below).
- The EAA has more detailed technical requirements, including for mobile apps, documents, and e-books. The Stanca law focuses primarily on websites and applications.
- The EAA allows EU countries to keep national laws like the Stanca Act if they meet the EAA’s minimum requirements.
- The EAA includes provisions on market surveillance to ensure organizations conform to applicable laws and regulations, while the Stanca law does not.
How Upcoming EAA Changes Impact Italian Accessibility Law
Under the EAA, member states must adopt its provision into their national law. This has a broad scope, not only affecting more products and services–ecommerce platforms, smartphones, e-documents, and televisions–but also more private businesses. While companies that make less than 500 million euros are exempt in Italy today, some of them will not be exempt when the EAA goes into full effect in 2025. Instead, the EAA will include all businesses employing 10 or more employees or that make less than 2 million euros.
The European Commission is also due to publish common accessibility requirements to harmonize standards across the EU. Organizations in Italy and other EU countries will need to ensure their digital assets meet these standards. In the meantime, companies hoping to do business in Italy and EU nations should align with WCAG 2.1 AA standards.
Meeting Stanca and EAA Standards
If your organization does business in Italy–or other EU countries–and wants to ensure your websites and digital assets meet web accessibility standards, it helps to begin with an EAA standards checklist. It will help you understand how the EAA applies to your company, what you’re obligated to do, and how you can ensure usable and accessible experiences for people with disabilities.
TPGi is a world leader in digital accessibility and understands the intricacies of European accessibility laws. As a consulting partner, we can provide your company with expertise, accessibility testing tools, and services to support you on your conformance journey. Contact TPGi today to learn more about how we can help your organization’s digital products conform to the European Accessibility Act.