In 2017, there were 13.04 million people with disabilities in Germany, 7.8 million of whom had a recognized severe disability: including 4,641,000 people with a physical disability, 351,000 people with blindness or a visual impairment, 318,000 people with a speech or language disorder, deafness, hearing loss or balance disorders, 644,000 people with a mental disability and 310,000 people with a cognitive disability.
The results of the "Online stores in Germany are this accessible" survey show that 61 percent of people with disabilities shop online very frequently or frequently, compared to 51 percent of people without disabilities who do so.
People with disabilities therefore make disproportionately high use of online shopping opportunities.
The Accessibility Reinforcement Act (BFSG) was enacted on 16.7.2021 and will come into force on 25.06.2025.
The new Accessibility Reinforcement Act (BFSG ) primarily contains information on accessibility requirements for products and services, including websites and online stores. It adapts the previous accessibility requirements for products and services of the Barrier-free Information Technology Ordinance (BITV), the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Disability Equality Act (BGG), theDirective 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 17, 2019.
The Barrierefreiheitsstärkungsgesetz regulates the accessibility requirements for websites of
- Banks, online banking, banking services
- Passenger transportation services by air, bus, rail and ship (with the exception of regional transport)
- Telecommunications services
- Online stores and e-commerce - even if the products sold themselves do not fall within the scope of the BFSG.
- Online appointment bookings such as hotel and travel bookings or appointment bookings.
In general, electronic commerce is defined as the sale or purchase of goods or services via the Internet (computerized networks). It does not matter whether the delivery/provision takes place online or offline. Only the booking or purchase must be online.
E-commerce services therefore also include confirmations of travel bookings or similar. Confirmations that are written by hand (e.g. manually typed e-mails) are an exception. E-commerce services include automatic or fully electronic confirmations, appointment bookings, etc. If this is not the case, you are not affected by the BFSG.
The onlyexceptions are micro-enterprises that offer services on their website (e.g. a hairdresser with fewer than 10 employees and an annual turnover of less than 2 million who offers appointment bookings on their website).
Websites for the presentation of products / services or blogs on which products or corresponding services cannot be purchased or booked for a fee are not covered by the scope of application of the BFSG. For a website to fall under the definition of "service in electronic commerce", offers must be presented and (!) bookings or payments must be possible.
The BFSG itself defines that, in principle, only consumer products and services that are provided to consumers must meet the requirements. The BFSG therefore only applies to online stores or websites in the B2C sector. However, it must be made clear that these are B2B stores and that they do not sell to consumers.
In principle, a website affected by the BFSG must be designed to be fully accessible. However, there are a few exceptions:
- Content that is considered time-based media (e.g. recorded audio or video files)
- Content that will not be revised or updated after June 28, 2025. However, the focus here is on the fact that the entire store or website must be dormant, not just individual blog posts that will no longer be revised.
- Content from third parties that is neither financed nor developed by the owner nor subject to their control.
Please note: Third-party advertising (banners, pop-ups, etc.) and third-party applications (cookie consent tools, interactive functions) are expressly not covered by the above exceptions because their control lies with the owner.
A note in advance: The following tools can only check purely technical features. However, technical features must often also be considered in the context of content. For example, images may have alternative text (alt text), but if this does not match the image or does not provide assistance for screen readers, accessibility is not guaranteed. Testing tools cannot recognize this.
In principle, automated systems can only automatically check around a third of the criteria.
Checking tools should therefore only be used for an initial, superficial check.
The open source solutions used by web-vision, Magento - for online stores - and TYPO3 for content management websites, offer options for implementing the legal requirements and can also be retrofitted without any problems.
Depending on the scope of the website or online store, the effort required for integration can be more or less extensive and therefore requires individual testing and assessment. Most developments relate to the presentation and usability of the website for end users / customers with restrictions and must therefore be implemented as part of the front-end development.
However, the operator is expected to provide further work instructions or training for editors during further operation. An example of this is the so-called alt texts for images, which provide a short textual summary "What is happening in the image?" of the image shown. The only exceptions here are purely decorative images.
For example, it is not permitted to use pure brand or product names that do not provide any information about the image shown.
For TYPO3, there is currently already a BITV-certified package for accessibility, the so-called Introduction Package. It contains a standard installation including the usual content elements and can therefore serve as a simple basis for creating a new, small TYPO3 website. However, this approach is not recommended for existing websites, as there would be too many adjacent migration efforts.
For Magento online stores, the so-called Hyvä Themewhich was previously mainly known for its fast loading times, short development times and therefore time-to-market, from version 1.3. The Hyvä theme (version 1.3.0 and higher) implements functions for accessibility in accordance with the requirements of WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guideline) 2.1 level AA.
However, these tools cannot solve all problems.
You can find an exemplary statement on these overlay tools in the article "Overlays for more accessibility? Why this is not a good idea" on bitvtest.de.
For the conversion of websites and online stores, Aktion Mensch offers the funding programAccessibility for allwith micro-funding of up to EUR 5,000 and 100% funding.
No personal funds are required for costs of up to EUR 5,000.
Aktion Mensch also offers the funding program Digital participation for all. This also supports the "programming and design of websites" including media work.
The maximum grant here is EUR 20,000 and projects for inclusive media work up to EUR 15,000. Of this, a maximum of EUR 5,000 may be spent on technical equipment. In addition, a maximum of EUR 5,000 can be applied for to create accessibility.
Together with our FGTCLB agency network, we offer accessibility audits for websites and online stores. These are carried out by our accessibility expert and author Marc Haunschild . He checks a website for weak points and low-hanging fruit (= simple measures) and provides recommendations for action and implementation in a comprehensive report, which can then be implemented accordingly by our developers.
The solutions for implementing an accessible website described above also provide a good basis for implementation.
If desired, a BITV certification with the renowned BIK-BITV test mark can be obtained for a website. Marc Haunschild carries out the test as an authorized and qualified testing body. The certified websites are then published on www.bitvtest.de including the test report.
We are also happy to support and assist you in applying for funding.
- "Mandatory accessibility of online stores from June 2025: Comprehensive FAQ"https://www.it-recht-kanzlei.de/faq-barrierefreiheit-online-shops-bfsg.html
- "Accessibility a hurdle for small online retailers: larger e-commerce providers must make their websites accessible by mid-2025"
- Accessible website: Easier for everyone
- PDF: This is how accessible online stores are in Germany
- "Barrierefreiheitsstärkungsgesetz: Accessibility becomes mandatory for private companies"
- Accessibility Reinforcement Act
- TYPO3 BITV certified introduction package
- TYPO3 Introduction Package BITV test report
- Magento Hyvä 1.3 Release Notes accessibility
- DIRECTIVE (EU) 2019/882 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
- Marc Haunschild International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP)