Public authorities must provide barrier-free access to the web content
It is not just for the sake of fulfilling legal requirements that makes adhering to international standards, such as the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Guidelines important. Rather, the goal is to build user-friendly Web service offerings that can be used with ease by everyone in the same way, quickly, simply and conveniently.
Web offerings must be able to be used without difficulty and without help from others, in order to be considered truly "accessible". Meeting accessibility requirements for people with special needs poses a particular challenge for information and communication technologies. Due to the diverse nature of disabilities, a multitude of aspects have to be taken into account when developing Web offerings.
The legal framework for accessibility
Various regulations form the legal framework for accessibility in web offerings:
Article 7 of the Constitution formulates the principle of equality and also lays down a general ban on discrimination against handicapped people. The Federal Government, the provinces and municipalities must ensure the equal treatment of all people, whether handicapped or not, in all areas of daily life.
As an important result of this article of constitutional law, the Federal Act on Equal Treatment of Disabled Persons (Bundes-Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz, or BGStG) was enacted. The WAI guidelines, especially the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), are used as criteria for offerings on Internet sites.
§ 1, Par. 3 of the eGovernment Act states that public authority Internet presences must implement accessibility features to ensure access for people with disabilities. International standards on Web accessibility should be thereby conformed with and implemented. The need for action is even more urgent for government sites in which accessibility has not been taken into account.
Further specifications are given in § 3, Par. 5 of the Federal Service of Documents Act and § 3, Par. 1, line 10 of the Delivery Service Regulation, which are based on the latest standards for implementation of accessibility for electronic delivery.
The current general terms and contracting conditions of the Republic of Austria for IT Services Software (AVB-IT/SW) demand a detailed and verifiable description to what extent their product can be used by disabled persons without barriers ("Accessibility statement") from the contractor free of charge.
The "EU Directive on the Accessibility of the Websites and Mobile Applications of Public Sector Bodies” was adopted in 2016. The goal of the directive is the creation of a harmonised market for websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies. The directive aims to ensure that the websites and mobile applications of public sector organisations are made more accessible on the basis of joint requirements.
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0
- Legal basics for ICT Accessibility in Austria and in the European Union
- General terms and conditions of the Austrian IT services (AVB-IT, in German)
- Brochure in German; Barrierefreie IKT - zum Nutzen aller, December 2016 (PDF, 488 KB)
- WIKI portal Barrierefrei