Act on digital accessibility of September 4, 2019.02/14/2021
The Act of April 4, 2019 on digital accessibility of websites and mobile applications of public entities amends the law on the accessibility of websites and mobile applications of public authorities. This is a very important legal act, the non-implementation of which may result in the imposition of financial penalties on the entity (even up to PLN 10,000!).
The digital accessibility required by the act is nothing more than compliance with the requirements of WCAG 2.1 AA (previously WCAG 2.0. AA guidelines were in force in Poland). Detailed rules for creating websites and mobile applications in accordance with the new act are described here.
The availability of websites and applications is required from public entities, such as commune offices, municipalities, schools, universities, state hospitals, municipal archives, libraries, etc. (a full list of websites and mobile applications belonging to public entities is available here. Additionally, availability is required. there are some NGOs, especially those whose activities are focused on supporting the elderly and people with disabilities, but other regulations clarify that accessibility is required from all NGOs that benefit from EU subsidies - failure to meet this criterion could lead to loss of funding!
The act defines the elements that absolutely must be available on the website:
- contact details or link to BIP
- contact tools (e.g. forms, online sign interpreter)
- declaration of availability
- important information related to crisis situations
- official documents and model documents intended for incurring civil law obligations
Items that may not be available are also listed:
- live multimedia
- archival (before 23/09/2018) text and graphic documents, multimedia presentations, unless their availability is necessary for the implementation of current tasks
- archival materials (before 09/23/2019) from the intranet and extranet
- archival (before 09/23/2020) multimedia
- some maps, as long as they are provided with alternative access
- some monuments and works of art
- content from other entities
Entities covered by the act are required to place on their website the so-called declaration of availability. The declaration of accessibility is a digital document prepared in accordance with the template of the Ministry of Digitization, it concerns the availability of a digital website or mobile application. This document needs to be updated annually by the end of March or more frequently in the event of significant changes to the website. In the case of websites, it should be accessible from the navigation level, and in the case of a mobile application, it should be placed in the place from which the application is downloaded.
What should the declaration of availability contain?
- Status in terms of availability from WCAG 2.1 AA
- Unavailable content - must be replaced and the reason why it is unavailable
- Accessibility Statement
- Additional elements of the declaration resulting from the act
(See the formula above for details.)
Although the Act on digital accessibility requires inclusive actions on the websites of public entities, it is definitely worth implementing these solutions more broadly. An accessible site is a site that can be used by more people, which means more customers for private entrepreneurs.