Provide barrier-free access to the Internet and content to all citizens
Along with the advantages and opportunities that the information age brings the danger arises that socially disadvantaged people and those with special needs will be excluded from using new media channels and technologies. This phenomenon is known as the digital divide. To prevent this from occurring, all Web content should be made available for everyone through adherence to the guidelines of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
Administrative processes should become easier to use in particular for the elderly or people with disabilities by taking their special needs into consideration. The solutions offered as well as the Web sites themselves must be barrier-free and accessible to all. Additional solutions, such as public Web terminals, should make it possible for everyone to be able to use eGovernment.
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.
Various regulations form the legal framework for accessibility in web offerings, e.g.:
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, specially the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), are used as criteria for offerings on Internet sites.
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.