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Web Accessibility Directive

Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies 

On 3.12.2012, the European Commission presented a proposal for a “Directive on Accessibility to the Websites of Public Organisations” (“Web Accessibility Directive”). This aims to support the Member States to meet the national obligations with regard to a barrier-free web access and to implement the commitment of the Member States to the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons with regard to the websites of public organisations.

The original proposed directive related to 12 types of web services such as e.g. the registration of a motorised vehicle, the submission of a tax declaration, the application of a passport or driving licence, etc. In the course of the negotiations on EU level, the area of application was finally substantially extended. Overall, all websites and mobile applications of the federal government, provinces and municipalities and organisations under public law pursuant to Art. 2 Clause 1 Par. 4 Directive for the Award of Public Service Contracts (2014/24/EU) were covered by the area of application if this does not generate any disproportionate effort and none of the exceptional provisions takes effect (certain web content such as online map material or Extranet are excluded, in part with temporal restriction).

From a technical perspective, the fulfilment of the AA level of the “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0” is deemed to be the yardstick. For this, a European standard (EN 301 549) was accepted.

The directive entered into force on 22.12.2016 and is to be implemented legislatively by 23.09.2018. On web content that has been published before 23.9.2018 (“old” content), the national provisions will be applicable from 23.9.2020; on the web content that is published after 23.9.2018 (“new” content), the national provisions are already applicable from 23.9.2019 onwards. The national provisions are applicable to mobile application from 23.6.2021.

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