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What is the German Accessibility Strengthening Act?

Author: Marvin Kolb

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Jul 2023

The enactment of the Accessibility Strengthening Act is approaching. But what exactly is this law about? What are the deadlines? Who is affected and which products and services are covered?

We clarify all these questions in this introductory article. After reading it, you’ll have a clear overview of the key data on the Accessibility Strengthening Act and know whether or not it affects you.

 

What is the Accessibility Strengthening Act?

The basis for the law is the European Accessibility Act (EAA) (Directive 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council on accessibility requirements for products and services), which came into force on June 28, 2019. This directive is to be implemented in Germany with the Accessibility Strengthening Act.

What does the EU Directive (EAA) do? The Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs provides information: “The EU Directive on Accessibility Requirements for Products and Services establishes the technical requirements for accessibility and the barrier-free information requirements of certain products and services in a uniform manner.” This is intended to standardize legislation within the European Union and create clear requirements. (Source: Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs)

Through the Accessibility Strengthening Act, the section aims to implement previously mentioned requirements and promote the following: “As far as products and services are concerned, the Accessibility Strengthening Act (BFSG for short) promotes the equal and non-discriminatory participation of people with disabilities, limitations and older people.” (Source: Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs)

Products and services are barrier-free if the above-mentioned groups can use them equally as people without limitations.

 

What are the deadlines for the Accessibility Strengthening Act?

The law was passed by the Bundestag on July 22, 2021. It will come into force approximately four years later on July 28, 2025, after which all the products and services listed in it must be marketed barrier-free.

Self-service terminals are also covered by the Accessibility Strengthening Act, but have a separate transition period until 2040.

Compliance with the law is monitored by the German states in the course of market surveillance. The following applies: “In the event of non-compliance, market surveillance authorities can restrict or prohibit the provision of the product or service or ensure that products are withdrawn or recalled. This affects not only manufacturers, but also distributors and importers.” (Source: The Federal Government Commissioner for Information Technology)

 

Which products and services are affected?

The following products and services are covered by the requirements of the Accessibility Strengthening Act:

Products:

  • Computers, notebooks, tablets, smartphones, cell phones.
  • Self-service terminals: including ATMs, ticket machines and check-in machines
  • Smart TVs and TVs with Internet access
  • E-book readers
  • Routers and modems
  • Computer hardware systems and operating systems

Services:

  • All access to audiovisual media for consumers
  • Telephone services
  • E-books
  • Messenger applications
  • Services for mobile devices and apps for inter-regional passenger transport
  • Banking services
  • Electronic commerce
  • Passenger transportation services

 

Who will be required to do something by the Accessibility Strengthening Act?

Who is affected?

  • Manufacturers of the services and products mentioned in the previous section
  • Distributors of the affected services and products
  • Importers of the affected services and products
  • Also, any microenterprise that manufactures or circulates products

Who is not affected?

  • Micro-enterprises that provide services. The following limits apply here:
  • The company must have less than 10 employees
  • It must generate no more than 2 million euros in annual sales

 

What does the law require?

The specific requirements are spread across various norms and standards. You will soon find a more detailed breakdown of the extensive requirements in an article we have written.

The basic rule is: a product or service and its provided packaging and the provided information must be designed barrier-free.

It is always important to consider the current state of the art and the additional requirements for each product group. The additional requirements can be found here: Bundesgesetzblatt from the Bundesanzeiger Verlag.

Requirements are placed on the following points of products and services specified in §3, paragraph 2:

  1. “the design and manufacture of the products, including the user interface,
  2. the accessibility and design of the offer and execution of the services,
  3. the way information is provided, in particular on the use of the products, such as on the labeling, instructions for use, safety information and the functioning of the services, as well as on the accessibility features and accessibility functions of the products and services, as well as on the possible use of assistive technologies.” (Source: Federal Law Gazette from Bundesanzeiger Verlag; §3 paragraph 2).

Harmonized standards and technical specifications have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. We will provide an article on this soon as well.

 

Conclusion

As of July 28, 2025, products and services from the categories listed in the Accessibility Strengthening Act must be marketed in such a way that they enable the equal and non-discriminatory participation of people with disabilities, limitations and older people.

Manufacturers, distributors and importers of the affected products and services are affected.

Find out how we can help you achieve accessibility for products, services and websites here.

Feel free to comment below this post or contact us directly via our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

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