2025 Acces­si­bi­li­ty Act

New requi­re­ments for pro­ducts and services

On 20 May 2021, Germany’s Fede­ral Par­lia­ment adopted a bill for an Acces­si­bi­li­ty Act (only in Ger­man). This Act ser­ves to imple­ment the 2019 EU Direc­ti­ve on acces­si­bi­li­ty requi­re­ments for pro­ducts and ser­vices (PDF) into Ger­man law. The pur­po­se of the Act is to streng­then the rights of per­sons with disa­bi­li­ties to take part in com­mu­nal life and account for the har­mo­niza­ti­on of the inter­nal mar­ket (§ 1(1) of the Acces­si­bi­li­ty Act).

Whom and what does the Acces­si­bi­li­ty Act app­ly to?

The Act appli­es to sel­ect pro­ducts and ser­vices which are pla­ced on the mar­ket after 28 June 2025. The­se pro­ducts par­ti­cu­lar­ly include ope­ra­ting sys­tems, pay­ment and self-service ter­mi­nals, smart pho­nes, tablets and e‑book rea­ders (§ 1(2)). The ser­vices cover­ed by the Act par­ti­cu­lar­ly include tele­com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons ser­vices (e.g. mes­sen­ger ser­vices), con­su­mer ban­king ser­vices and all online sales, via the defi­ni­ti­on of e‑commerce ser­vices. Micro-enterprises are excluded from the scope of the Act (§ 3(3)).

From this point for­ward, pro­ducts and ser­vices will have to be acces­si­ble, which is the case if they can be found, acces­sed and used by per­sons with disa­bi­li­ties in the gene­ral­ly typi­cal man­ner wit­hout par­ti­cu­lar dif­fi­cul­ty and gene­ral­ly wit­hout out­side help (§ 1(3)), wher­eby this defi­ni­ti­on was taken from § 4 of the Act on Equal Oppor­tu­ni­ties for Per­sons with Disa­bi­li­ties (only in Ger­man). As indi­ca­ted by the legis­la­ti­ve intent (PDF only in Ger­man), the prin­ci­ple which must be obser­ved is that access to infor­ma­ti­on must be pro­vi­ded via two of the fol­lo­wing three sen­ses: hea­ring, sight and touch. The­se defi­ni­ti­ons will be fle­shed out by the Fede­ral Minis­try of Labor and Social Affairs, which will issue an ordi­nan­ce defi­ning the pre­cise requi­re­ments. The Minis­try, for its part, will be requi­red to adhe­re to the spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons pur­su­ant to Annex I (PDF) of the Direc­ti­ve. The Com­mis­si­on may sup­ple­ment this Annex by issuing fur­ther spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons within the frame­work of dele­ga­ted Acts. A draft Ordi­nan­ce (PDF only in Ger­man) has alre­a­dy been published, based pri­ma­ri­ly on the sta­te of the art.

Requi­re­ments, moni­to­ring and penalties

Various requi­re­ments will app­ly to manu­fac­tu­r­ers, in line with the New Legis­la­ti­ve Frame­work (NLF): pla­cing pro­ducts on the mar­ket will requi­re tech­ni­cal docu­men­ta­ti­on, a con­for­mi­ty assess­ment pro­ce­du­re, a decla­ra­ti­on of con­for­mi­ty and a CE mar­king. The same appli­es for importers. Manu­fac­tu­r­ers may appoint an aut­ho­ri­zed repre­sen­ta­ti­ve to meet their requi­re­ments. Ser­vice pro­vi­ders will be requi­red to ensu­re acces­si­bi­li­ty. Excep­ti­ons will app­ly for dis­pro­por­tio­na­te bur­dens, and com­pli­ance with the requi­re­ments may not result in a fun­da­men­tal altera­ti­on in the basic natu­re of the pro­duct or ser­vice. Con­su­mers may noti­fy the mar­ket sur­veil­lan­ce aut­ho­ri­ties, trig­ge­ring an inspec­tion pro­ce­du­re. The­re is also a right to file repre­sen­ta­ti­ve actions in terms of § 15 of the Act on Equal Oppor­tu­ni­ties for Per­sons with Disa­bi­li­ties (only in Ger­man). Vio­la­ti­ons may also be pena­li­zed as admi­nis­tra­ti­ve offen­ses. Accor­din­gly, acces­si­bi­li­ty will be an inter­nal com­po­nent of pro­duct com­pli­ance as of 2025. Com­pa­nies should the­r­e­fo­re take time­ly action to assess their pro­ducts accor­din­gly and to crea­te the neces­sa­ry con­di­ti­ons for pro­duct con­for­mi­ty as of 2025, and in their sup­p­ly chain as well


Stay up-to-date

We use your email address exclusively for sending our newsletter. You have the right to revoke your consent at any time with effect for the future. For further information, please refer to our privacy policy.