On 31 March 2022, the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy submitted a proposal for a Product and Service Accessibility Act[1] (PSAA). The bill is intended to transpose Directive (EU) 2019/882 on the accessibility requirements for products and services (European Accessibility Act).[2] This Directive, and thus the bill, are intended to counter social exclusion and enable people with disabilities to live independently[3]. The new standards for product and service accessibility are also intended to help people with functional impairments, such as the elderly or pregnant women. Firms in the e-commerce sector will be among those affected by the legislative proposal.

The bill provides for a range of obligations for manufacturers, authorized representatives, importers, and distributors of products, as well as for service providers. Accessibility requirements will apply to products and services such as computer hardware and operating systems, smartphones, e-books, self-service terminals, cash dispensers, digital television devices and services, telecommunications services, access to audiovisual media services, e-commerce services, and transportation services (with respect to ticket machines and websites).

The bill provides for accessibility requirements applicable to products and services subject to the bill, for instance:

  • Instructions, labels, and warnings concerning use of a product must be available via more than one sensory channel.
  • Implementation of text-to-speech technology for e-books and text-to-speech technology and use of headsets for self-service terminals. Additional accessibility requirements have also been specified for smartphones.
  • Services subject to the bill are to be provided using products that conform to the accessibility requirements specified in the bill. In addition, information about rendered services must be provided via more than one sensory channel, in an understandable way and in fonts of adequate size.
  • The Directive states clearly that accessibility requirements must be introduced in the manner that is least burdensome for the economic operators and member states. For this reason, article 21 of the bill provides also for exceptions to compliance where it would impose a disproportionate burden on economic operators and require alteration of a product or service, resulting in a major change to the basic properties of the product or service.
  • The bill also provides for specific criteria for determining whether the accessibility requirements described above are complied with, and an obligation to store documentation regarding that determination for five years.
  • Economic operators whose products and services are subject to the act will be required to produce technical documentation and declarations of conformity with accessibility requirements and affix the CE marking as appropriate.
  • Disclosure and record-keeping obligations relating to accessibility requirements and new obligations on service providers have also been introduced.
  • Consumer protection is also envisaged, including a complaint procedure regarding non-conformity with accessibility requirements.
  • The bill also provides for monitoring of conformity and administrative fines imposed by a regulatory authority for failure to comply with obligations under the act. Importantly, if an economic operator does not take corrective measures, the regulatory authority will be able to issue a ruling prohibiting a specific product from being made available, restricting availability of the product, or withdrawing it from the market. With regard to services, the regulatory authority has the power to order conformity with accessibility requirements, order that the service cease, or inform consumers of the extent of non-conformity.

The bill transposing the Directive into Polish law is to come into force on 28 June 2025.

[1] The proposal can be found here: https://legislacja.rcl.gov.pl/projekt/12358257/katalog/12865996#12865996

[2] Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the accessibility requirements for products and services

[3] The statement of reasons for the bill on accessibility of certain products and services 24.03.2022.