On 1 January 2016, the 10-year transitional period for mandatory and complete compliance with the Federal Equal Treatment of Disabled Persons Act (BGStG) came to an end. The aim of this federal law is to eliminate and prevent the discrimination of persons with disabilities. Companies can be affected by this law as providers of goods and services to customers, or as employers towards their employees.
It is our aim to handle the subject of disabilities and accessibility beyond what is required by legal provisions and regulations. Raising awareness among our management and employees by means of targeted information and training is a very important part of this, and involves the following questions, among others:
- What is a disability, and how does disability affect me in the company?
- How do I speak about the topic of disabilities?
- How do I handle disabilities within the team and in customer service?
- Which business opportunities can result for VERBUND by offering accessible products and services?
The access management which was implemented in 2014 evaluates the accessibility of our locations and company information, and suggests improvements. We are striving to make access to our company easier. This means removing both constructional barriers and informational and communications barriers. The goal is to appropriately educate the responsible persons on site, so that in the future they themselves can determine how to implement improvement measures. In the future, there will be a so-called access statement for each visitor centre. In this document, the on-site conditions will be exactly described, so that everyone – whether with a wheelchair, artificial hip, stroller, blind or deaf – can decide independently whether a visit is possible for him or her.
Accessible web products for an optimised user experience
Sunlight reflecting on the screen, insufficient space in the train compartment, new mobile devices or physical limitations: such factors make it hard for many users to take advantage of web offers. So it is important to us to create barrier-free access to our online content. Many facilitating technologies and devices help to make usage simpler. Not every user navigates web forms with a mouse from line to line – many also use the keyboard for navigation. Others use one of the many screen magnifiers to enlarge the font size if it isn't legible. Users with massive limitations such as blindness may make use of devices that present the content of websites not visually, as with a browser, but acoustically or in Braille.
VERBUND's web products must offer maximal accessibility for different target groups. In order to ensure this, we are striving to reach the highest level of the guideline for barrier-free web contents as defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Only part of the measures for barrier-free websites has to do with programming. Another part concerns the continuous professional web editing. Please send us ideas and suggestions for improvement, so that we can continue to improve the accessibility of our content!