European Accessibility Act

Published on

February 02, 2023

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EN 2019/882, also known as the European Accessibility Act (EAA),is scheduled to come into force in 2025.

The aim is to use the new EU directive to create uniform standards for the accessibility of services and products on the web. Unlike regulations, which are already binding legal standards, directives have not yet been transposed into national law. This is to be done by June 28, 2022. For now, the guideline only points the way and does not yet impose any responsibility on service providers.

What criteria must an EAA website meet?

When the EAA technical standards go into effect, website operators and online retailers will need to ensure that their online offerings meet the following standards:
  • Clear text and sufficient contrast 
  • Images with alt text or image description 
  • Sensory alternatives, stores are easy to use even without visual elements 
  • No mouse is needed 
  • Other digital accessibility features 

Who is exempt from the EAA?

Small businesses with fewer than ten employees or businesses with annual sales of up to 2 million euros are exempt. In this way, the private sector should also be held accountable. So it's worth preparing early for upcoming legislation. 

WCAG and BITV: The cornerstones of digital accessibility.

Digital accessibility in the current interpretation is mainly based on the following four aspects:
  • Perceiveable
  • Available
  • Understandable
  • Robust

BITV: Which specific accessibility standards must be met?

If one's website is required by law to be accessible, the question arises: when is a website considered accessible? Certain criteria are not yet clearly defined. 
The German terms of BITV refer to the Web Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The WCAG are considered a set of guidelines that describe the content of accessible websites. In this way, a uniform standard for accessible networks is to be created. If there are new WCAG guidelines, the EU must first react to this and depending on what the EU decides, BITV will look at this and align it for itself in Germany. Currently, this is the WCAG 2.1 AA level. The current regulations of BITV 2.0 refer to the principles of perceptibility, usability, comprehensibility and robustness. Ultimately, however, it is also a matter of interpretation. For those who are legally required to have an accessible website, it is best to read the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 and the test criteria catalog according to BIK. Although this list is only an interpretation of the Regulations for Accessible Information Technology (BITV), the list nevertheless provides a realistic overview of all relevant features and standards. 

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