Barrier-free access to products and services - new challenges for companies | Fieldfisher
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Barrier-free access to products and services - new challenges for companies



Have you heard of the European Accessibility Act (Directive (EU) 2019/822, "EAA"), the Barrierefreiheitsstärkungsgesetz (BFSG) or the ordinance to the BFSG, the BFSGV, which come into force in Germany on June 28, 2025?

Even though this appears to be plenty of time to handle the new provisions, the BFSG, however, poses a number of challenges for affected companies, which can be both costly and time-consuming. The issue should therefore be addressed now, and measures should be introduced in good time to avoid negative consequences. Almost the entire e-commerce sector is affected.

Background of Accessibility

More than 87 million people in Europe live with some form of physical, mental, intellectual or sensory disability. This means that one in five Europeans is affected. The European legislator therefore considered it important to establish EU-wide minimum requirements for accessibility to a range of products and services in order to contribute to the smooth functioning of the internal market and increase the social participation of people with disabilities in both the public and private sectors. This led to the adoption of the European Accessibility Act (Directive (EU) 2019/822, "EAA") in 2019, which was transposed into German law in 2021 by the Barrierefreiheitsstärkungsgesetz (BFSG) and in 2022 by the ordinance to the BFSG, the BFSGV.

Which companies are affected?

All economic operators, i.e. manufacturers, authorized representatives, importers, distributors or service providers who trade in B2C traffic with affected products or provide services must comply with the new requirements. Exempt (only!) with regard to services (and not products) are so-called micro-enterprises, i.e. companies that employ fewer than ten people and either (i) have an annual turnover of no more than EUR 2 million, or (ii) have an annual balance sheet total of no more than EUR 2 million.

Which products and services are affected?

The above-mentioned economic operators are only included if they trade in the following products or provide the following services:


Hardware systems for universal computers for consumers including operating systems (e.g. computers)

Telecommunication services (telephony, messenger, etc.)

Self-service terminals (e.g. ticket machines and ATMs)

Elements of passenger transportation services such as websites, apps or electronic ticketing services.

Interactive consumer devices that are used for telecommunications services (e.g. smartphones)

Banking services

Interactive consumer terminals used to access audiovisual media (e.g. interactive televisions)

E-book software


Services in electronic commerce with consumers (i.e. all e-commerce, but also mere online appointment booking tools).














What are the requirements of the BFSG and the BFSGV?

Affected products and services must be made available without barriers. This is the case if they can be found, accessed and used by people with disabilities in the usual way, without particular difficulty and, in principle, without outside help. The specific accessibility requirements for products and services are determined by the BFSGV.

1.  Requirements for products and services

The BFSGV defines a large number of general and special requirements.

In general terms, requirements are placed on the functionality of products, on information about products, product packaging and instructions as well as the functionality of services. In general, all the elements mentioned must in particular:

  • be available via more than one sensory channel or products can be controlled and operated via more than one sensory channel,
  • are presented in a way that is understandable and perceivable to consumers, and
  • have an appropriate font size, contrast and spacing between letters, lines, etc.
  • Information on product packaging (opening, disposal, etc.) should also be provided on the packaging itself, if possible.
  • In addition, websites, apps, etc. must be designed in a consistent and appropriate way that is perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.

In addition, further sector-specific requirements apply to individual products, such as self-service terminals, e-books and interactive consumer terminals.

The same applies to certain services, such as telecommunications services, passenger transportation services, banking services and in particular e-commerce. For the latter, for example, it is stipulated that identification, authentication, security and payment functions must be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.

1.1  Presumption of conformity of harmonized standards and technical specifications

Whether products or services meet the requirements placed on them may often remain unclear in individual cases because of no further definition of terminology mentioned above. For example, there is no further definition of how to assess whether information has been presented in an understandable or perceivable manner.

The economic operators concerned, in particular manufacturers and service providers, can be relieved of the resulting risks to a certain extent if their products or services comply with harmonized standards or technical specifications (laid down by the Commission) or parts thereof. If this is the case, it is presumed that they meet the requirements of the BFSGV insofar as these requirements are covered by the relevant standards/specifications or parts thereof. However, economic operators, in particular manufacturers and service providers are obliged to monitor the deficiencies in the standards/specifications or changes to them. Thus, compliance with standards/specifications can only provide a limited degree of certainty.

1.2  Further documentation and information obligations

In addition to the above-mentioned requirements, there are also documentation and information obligations regarding compliance with the requirements of the BFSG and the BFSGV for products and services in accordance with Annexes 2 and 3 to the BFSG.

For products, manufacturers of products must prepare technical documentation in accordance with Section 6 para. 1 no. 2 BFSG in conjunction with Annex 2 to the BFSG, that shows the compliance of products with the requirements of the BFSGV. The minimum content is listed in Annex 2.

Pursuant to Section 14 para. 1 no. 2 BFSG in conjunction with Annex 3 to the BFSG, service providers must state in their general terms and conditions or in another clearly visible manner up to which level they meet the accessibility requirements of the BFSGV. The minimum content of the information to be provided is listed in Annex 3.

2.  Exceptions in case of change of character and disproportionate burden

Two exceptions apply in accordance with Sections 16, 17 BFSG for the implementation of the legal requirements if

  • compliance with the legal requirements requires a substantial modification of the product or service that would lead to a fundamental change in its essential characteristics, and/or

  • economic operators would be disproportionately burdened by the implementation, whereby the specific assessment criteria are set out in Annex 4 to the BFSG (e.g. net implementation costs compared to the total costs of the product or service).

What are the consequences of non-compliance with the new requirements?

If the requirements are not complied with correctly, fines of up to EUR 100,000 may be imposed in accordance with Section 37 BFSG. In addition, prohibition orders may be issued pursuant to Sections 23 para. 3 and 30 para. 3 BFSG and product recall obligations may be imposed pursuant to Sections 22 para. 4 and 26 para. 3 BFSG. Consumers and consumer associations are entitled to initiate proceedings in accordance with Sections 32, 33 BFSG.

In addition, competitors have access to legal remedies under German competition law.

Furthermore, a breach of accessibility in products can also result in classification as a material defect within the meaning of German warranty law, as the relevant regulations define what a consumer can objectively expect from a product, Section 434 para. 3 of the German Civil Code ("BGB"). Particularly in in the case of the sale of goods to consumers, attention must therefore also be paid to provisions of the BGB according to which negative deviations from the quality the consumer can objectively expect require individual information of and an express and separate agreement with the consumer, Section 476 para. 1 BGB.

What steps are required now?

In view of the extensive requirements that the BFSG and the BFSGV set out for the products and services concerned and the possible consequences, companies should address the issue of "accessibility of the products and services offered" promptly. In addition to implementation, the documentation requirements are also likely to lead to some effort. Against this backdrop, June 2025 is not far away. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if we can support you with implementation.