Accessible ID documents, i.e., passports, ID cards and driver’s licenses, are only slowly becoming an issue.
Achim Hildebrandt, expert and member of the Advisory Committee of the trade magazine ID & Secure Documents News, has written a very interesting article on this topic. We have read and summarized it for you:
The requirements for ID documents issued by EU countries, especially passports, mainly deal with technical standards for security features and biometric data.
The relevant regulation is the COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No. 2252/2004 of December 13, 2004.
Regarding accessibility, Article 4 (1) is interesting: “Without prejudice to data protection rules, persons to whom a passport or travel document has been issued shall have the right to verify the personal data contained in the passport or travel document and, where appropriate, to request rectification or erasure.”
Also visually impaired and blind people should be able to exercise this right, and – in the sense of accessibility – without outside assistance. However, the regulation so far only contains this principle, but no obligation for accessible ID documents.
In the socio-political dialog, topics such as gender, diversity, participation and accessibility are playing a more important role than ever.
This discussion is therefore also having an impact on the topic of ID documents. For a long time now, these documents have not only served as proof of identity, but also fulfill sociopolitical realities.
This has led to various adjustments: for example, by omitting data on height and special characteristics. Or by including “diverse” as gender.
However, the issue of accessibility is still unresolved. Yet it is high time.
On the one hand, this is due to requirements such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and on the other hand, it is due to the changing zeitgeist.
In the EU there are about 90 million people who cannot really read, be it due to blindness or visual impairment, cognitive limitations or reading difficulties.
This shows more than clearly that there is a need for accessible ID documents and that they will be in greater demand in the future.
Portugal was the first EU member state to introduce a Braille version of the e-passport (PEP). However, Braille has the disadvantage that only a few (20-25%) of blind people are proficient in Braille.
The mentioned millions of other people with reading problems cannot benefit from Braille.
Malta is implementing a different, much more accessible approach since fall 2019.
Audio format was chosen because it enables accessibility for many more people.
SpeechCode was the technology of choice. This code contains passport data directly in the code, so it requires no internet access to sensitive databases. With the free, accessible SpeechCode app, the data shows on the display in large letters and with strong contrasts. Simultaneously it is read out aloud.