The Act on Equal Opportunities for Disabled Persons of 2002 serves to implement for people with disabilities the ban on discrimination laid down in Article 3, paragraph 3 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (“No people shall be disadvantaged because of disability”). Its objective is to establish equal opportunities and barrier-free access in fields covered by public law. People with disabilities are to be given broad access to all areas of life and to be able to use them without any restrictions. On July 17, 2002, the Federal Ministry of the Interior, along with the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, issued an ordinance on the Creation of Barrier-Free Information Technology in accordance with the Act on Equal Opportunities for Disabled Persons. The German name of this ordinance is Barrierefreie Informationstechnik-Verordnung and it is commonly referred to by its acronym, BITV.
The aim of the ordinance is to ensure that people with disabilities can have access to all Internet content and services provided by German federal institutions. As part of the requirements, the federal government agencies and departments must ensure that all websites, web applications and software applications are built in an accessible fashion. Conformance with the BITV is determined by using the BITV test, which provides a set of validation steps for determining if a site conforms to the BITV requirements. The BITV conformance requirements are based upon the WCAG 1.0, however, the BITV standards are currently being updated to harmonize with WCAG 2.0.
While the BITV requirements only apply to German federal government web sites, the government does encourage state and local agencies and commercial providers to build websites and services in a manner that is accessible.
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