Since July 2020, the “E-Rechnung in Bayern” (e-invoice in Bavaria) service has been live on the Internet. The highly secure website validates and visualises electronic invoices for Bavarian administrative staff. Now the service has received the certificate “BITV-compliant” after a thorough examination according to the Barrier-Free Information Technology Ordinance (BITV). mgm technology partners realised it as a technical service provider on behalf of the Bavarian State Ministry of Digital Affairs.
Background for the testing of the “E-Rechnung in Bayern” service: The Online Access Act (“OZG”, Act to Improve Online Access to Administrative Services) not only obliges public administrations to digitally offer important public authority services for citizens and companies by the end of 2022 – they must also guarantee “barrier-free and media break-free access” (OZG §3 para. 1). Although this does not necessarily include a test and a certificate, the Bavarian State Ministry of Digital Affairs wanted an independent examination.
In 60 steps to tested accessibility
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the international standard for the barrier-free design of Internet offerings, are the yardstick for the certificate. The EU has adopted the standard in 2018. In Germany, a website is considered barrier-free if it fulfils all requirements according to the BITV 2.0 (Barrierefreie Informationstechnik-Verordnung – Accessible Information Technology Regulation) which applies in this country. To do so, it must pass through 60 test steps. “E-invoice in Bavaria” took up the challenge in October – and passed. Because the service is based on the A12 platform technology from mgm, many aspects of accessibility are already built in “ex factory”. With the certificate, the service is classified as WCAG compliant.
As proof of the certificate, the service now includes the test mark (subpage: “Barrierefreiheit”) and the test report is linked according to the auditing rules. The result with all test details is thus transparently visible to all users. The website has also been included in the list of recommended sites and agencies. The list is an important offer for successful inclusion on the Internet. In the past five years, around 100 websites have been officially certified by the “BITV-Test Prüfverbund”. Among them also some mgm projects.
Public Sector as pioneer for accessibility
With the test order, the Bavarian Digital Ministry underlines the exemplary function of the state in terms of accessibility. This is because public administrations provide services for citizens to a large extent. Their role in democratic societies includes providing these services to all and ensuring participation. This applies on site in barrier-free buildings, but also electronically on the Internet for applicants and employees in the administrations. But digital access is often made difficult.
The EU wants to remove such barriers with its EU-2016/2102 Directive. Since September 2019, it has been mandatory for all member states; in Germany, the BITV (Barrier-free Information Technology Ordinance) serves this purpose. According to § 1, the ordinance has the general objective of “enabling and ensuring a fundamentally unrestricted barrier-free design” of Internet offerings. Explicitly mentioned are “information and services of public authorities” and “administrative processes with and within the administration”, which are to be made accessible and usable for people with disabilities. Thus, barrier-free access to the digital services of administrations, social security institutions and local authorities has a special role to play. The public sector is thus becoming a pioneer in accessibility.
BITV-Test relies on voluntariness instead of obligation
However, the conversion of previously analogue services or non-barrier-free offers is a very extensive process. According to the OZG, administrations are obliged to offer their services electronically and barrier-free via their portals by 2022 at the latest. Up to now, a control of this is so far only planned at the federal level. The Federal Monitoring Centre for Accessibility of Information Technology (BFIT) is currently being set up. It is to advise and monitor public bodies. The BITV does not yet provide for a legal obligation to certify digital offerings. However, any administration can voluntarily have the accessibility of its services checked.