The latest update of the Digidoc software in use in Estonia is incompatible with screen readers used by those with limited vision, meaning that these individuals no longer have the opportunity to use Estonia's online state portal, Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise said in a letter to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.
In a letter addressed to Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kert Kingo (EKRE), Madise wrote that if sufficient attention isn't paid to the needs of all users in the course of IT development, solutions end up being developed that cannot be used by everyone. As a result, some members of society are left out, violating their rights.
This January, the Information System Authority (RIA) announced that documents could no longer be signed digitally using out-of-date Digidoc software, and that the old version of Digidoc does not support the new Estonian ID card which the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) began issuing on Dec. 3, 2018.
"It soon became clear that the new software does not allow for taking the needs of all of its users into account," the justice chancellor said. "People with limited vision use screen readers, but Digidoc4 does not work with screen readers. And so people with limited vision were deprived of the opportunity to use e-Eesti as accustomed as a result of the update."
The RIA had hoped to correct the issue by April, but the issue persists to this day. Users with limited vision were recommended to use the same outdated software that the RIA itself does not consider secure.
"Employees of the Chancellor of Justice's Office have likewise received feedback that people with limited vision possessing average computer skills do not know how to configure their computers as needed according to the RIA's recommendations," Madise highlighted, noting that people with limited vision have turned to her for help.
The Chancellor of Justice is thus asking the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications when updates to the Digidoc software will be completed that will ensure users with limited vision full access to ID card functionality. Madise is also asking how users with limited vision can access Estonian e-services until the software is patched, and how such issues can be avoided in the future.
The Chancellor of Justice is awaiting a reply from the ministry by July 1.
With the ratification of the UN's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2012, the Estonian state took on the obligation to ensure equal access to information and communication, including information and communication technology (ICT) and public services.
Editor: Aili Vahtla