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Law n. 4, January 9, 2004

The published text was translated in English by the Information Systems Accessibility Office at CNIPA (National Organism for ICT in the Public Administration) with the sole aim of facilitating a better comprehension of it.
The translation does not have official status, therefore the only official text is the one published in the Official Gazette of the Italian Republic, in Italian, n. 13, January 17th 2004.


Published on the Official Gazette n. 13 on January 17, 2004

The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic approved;

THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
Promulgates

the following law:

Provisions to support the access to information technologies for the disabled

Art. 1
(Aim and objectives)

1. The Republic acknowledges and protects everyone's right to access to all the sources of information and to their pertinent services, including those which make use of information technology and data transmission instruments.

2. The right for the disabled, to access Public Administration services which make use of computer and data transmission and to services in the public interest, is in particular guaranteed by and in compliance with the principles of equality enshrined in Article 3 of the Constitution.

Art. 2
(Definitions)

1. For the purpose of the present law the following definitions apply:

a) «accessibility»: the capability of computer systems, in accordance with the attained technological knowledge and its limits, to supply services and to provide information which can be availed of, without discrimination, also by those who need supporting technologies or special configurations because of some disability;
b) «supporting technologies»: the tools and the technical hardware and software solutions that enable disabled users to overcome or reduce the initial disadvantages in accessing the information and the services supplied by computer systems.

Art. 3
(Suppliers)

1. The present law is applicable to public administrations, as referred to in paragraph 2 of article 1 of the legislative decree n. 165, dated March 30, 2001, and in its subsequent modifications, to economic public agencies, to private firms which are licensees of public services, to regional municipal companies, to public assistance and rehabilitation agencies, to transport and telecommunication companies in which the State has a prevalent shareholding and to ICT services contractors.

2. The provisions of the present law, with regard to accessibility obligations, do not apply to computer systems that are used by user groups which disabled persons may not be part of by provision of the law.

Art. 4
(Accessibility obligations)

1. The subjects mentioned in article 3, when carrying out procedures to buy goods and to deliver services, are obliged, in the event that they are adjudicating bidders which all have submitted similar offers, to give preference to the bidder which offers the best compliance with the accessibility requirements provided for by the decree mentioned in article 11.
Not taking in consideration the accessibility requirements or the purchase of goods or supplied services that are not accessible has to be adequately justified.

2. The subjects mentioned in article 3, subsection 1, cannot draw up contracts for the implementation and modification of INTERNET websites, if they fail to respect the accessibility requirements provided for in the Decree article 11; any stipulated contract failing to respect such requirements will be considered null and void. All existing contracts signed before the Decree article 11 comes into effect must adhere to the provisions relating to accessibility requirements of the same law, in the event of the contract's extension, modification or renewal; any extended, modified or renewed contract which fails to respect such requirements will be declared null and void, while upgrading to meet such requirements should be carried out no later than twelve months from the date the Decree comes into force.

3. The provision of public funds to private subjects for the purchase of computer goods and services to be used by disabled workers or by other users, also in the event of the installation of telework equipment, is only legitimate if goods and services conform to the accessibility requirements provided for by the Decree article 11.

4. Public and private employers must provide disabled employees with hardware equipment, software tools and assistive technologies which are suitable for their needs and enable them to carry out their duties; this also applies in the event of teleworking.
The private employers are subject to the provision as referred to in article 13, subsection 1, letter c) of the law n. 68 dated March 12, 1999.

5. Public employers must adhere to subsection 4, in the case that such funds are available in the budget.

Art. 5
(Accessibility of educational and instructive instruments)

1.The provisions of the present law also apply to the educational and didactic materials used in all schools and at every level.

2. The agreements drawn up between the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research Institutes and by the publishers' associations concerning the supply of books to school libraries always provide for the supply of digital copies of the essential didactic material which should be accessible to disabled students and to assistant teachers, in the case that funds are available in the budget.

Art. 6
(Accessibility evaluation upon request)

1. The Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Department for Innovation and Technologies, evaluates upon request the accessibility of INTERNET websites or of computer material produced by subjects not included among those specified in article 3.

2. The regulations mentioned in article 10 define:

a) the ways in which such evaluation can be applied for;
b) the criteria to determine a possible contribution from the applicant to the evaluation costs;
c) the quality seal or logo with which awards accessibility requirement compliance;
d) the ways to ensure and check that the requirements are complied with on an ongoing basis.

Art. 7
(Administrative duties)

1. The Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Department for Innovation and Technology, also with the support of CNIPA (National Organism for ICT in the Public Administration), constituted by article 4, subsection 1 of the legislative decree n. 39 dated February 12, 1993 and subsequently replaced by article 176 of the legislative decree n. 196 dated June 30, 2003:

a) monitors the application of the present law;
b) monitors all public administrations' compliance with the provisions of the present law;
c) lists the public or private subjects which, have not only complied with the technical requirements referred to in article 11, but have also distinguished themselves for the dedication applied in pursuing the goals of the present law;
d) promotes, in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour, projects, initiatives and programmes which aim to enhance and to spread assistive and accessibility technologies;
e) promotes, in conjunction with the other interested administrations, after having consulted the permanent Council which governs the relationship between the State, the regions and the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano, the allocation of funds aimed at spreading the use of assistive technologies and specially configured ICT tools among the disabled and supporting research projects in the area of technological innovation which promote the full independence and equal opportunities for the disabled.
f) fosters, in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry for Equal Opportunities, the exchange of experiences and proposals among disabled associations, web designer associations who operate in the field of accessibility, public administrations, economic operators and hardware and software suppliers, also with the aim of promoting new initiatives;
g) promotes, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research Institutes and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, initiatives aimed at supporting accessibility to multimedia products also through specific research and experiment projects with the involvement of disabled associations; on the basis of the results of these experiment projects the Ministers concerned will issue a decree defining the technical rules for the accessibility to multimedia products.
h) describes, in conjunction with the Department of Public Service of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the accessibility objectives for the development of IT systems in the public administration, and introduces the issues relating to accessibility in personnel training programmes.

2. The regions, the autonomous provinces and municipalities are responsible for overseeing the application of the provisions of the present law.

Art. 8
(Training)

1. The administrations listed in article 3, subsection 1, with reference to activities mentioned in subsection 4 of article 7 of the legislative decree n. 165 dated March 30 2001, and the training courses organized by the Public Administration Superior School and with the reference to activities regarding the teaching of ICT skills to public servants, as defined in article 27, subsection 8, letter g) of the law n. 3 dated January 16 2003, shall include the issues relating to accessibility and assistive technologies to the main subjects of its academic programme.

2. The professional training mentioned in subsection 1 shall be carried out using accessible technologies.

3. The administrations listed in article 3, subsection 1, shall organize accessibility refresher courses based on the funds available in their budgets.

Art. 9
(Responsibility)

1. Failure to comply with the provisions of the present law implies both executive responsibility and disciplinary action pursuant to the articles 21 and 55 of the legislative decree n. 165 dated March 30 2001, as well as possible criminal prosecution and civil liability provided for by the current laws.

Art. 10
(Enforcement regulations)

1. The following topics will be defined within ninety days from the date that the present law comes into force, in accordance with the regulations issued in article 17, subsection 1 of the law n. 400 dated August 23, 1988:

a) the criteria and rules concerning the operational and organizational issues related to accessibility;
b) the contents defined in article 6, subsection 2;
c) the controls that may be carried out on private operators who claim that their sites and IT applications are accessible to disabled people;
d) the controls that may be carried out on the subjects mentioned in article 3, subsection 1.

2. The rules mentioned in subsection 1 shall be adopted subsequently to consultations with disabled associations which represent a cross-section of disabled people, associations of developers expert in the field of accessibility and hardware and software suppliers, and after having taken account of the recommendations of the competent parliamentary Committees which have to declare their opinion within forty-five days of the request, and in agreement with the Unified Council as referred to in article 8 of the legislative decree n. 281, dated August 28, 1997.

Art. 11
(Technical Requirements)

1. Within one hundred twenty days from the date that the present law comes into force the Minister for Innovation and Technologies, subsequently to consultations with disabled associations which represent a cross-section of disabled people, and in accordance with the criteria and rules listed in the regulations of article 10, shall provide by decree:

a) the guidelines that shall describe the technical requirements and the different levels of accessibility;
b) the technical methodologies to verify the accessibility of INTERNET websites as well as the assisted evaluation programs which can be useful to reaching that goal.

Art. 12
(International regulations)

1. The regulations mentioned in article 10 and the decree mentioned in article 11 have been issued in compliance with the guidelines suggested in the communications, recommendations and directives on accessibility of the European Union as well as those suggested by internationally acknowledged regulations, taking into account the recommendations put forward by public and private organizations working in this sector.

2. The decree mentioned in article 11 shall be periodically updated with the same procedure in order to comply with the modifications of the regulations mentioned in subsection 1 and the technological innovations that have occurred in the meantime.


The present law, which carries the seal of the Italian State, will be included in the Official collection of statutory acts of the Italian Republic. The present law is applicable to all subjects mentioned in article 3 and it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure that it is observed as a law of the State.


Rome, January 9, 2004.


CIAMPI
Berlusconi, the President of the Council of Ministers
Stanca, the Minister for Innovation and Technologies


Endorsed by the Minister of Justice: Castelli



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