Increasing the Accessibility of Technology in your business

Updated January 31st, 2013

It is unlikely that electronic resources in businesses will be accessible to customers and employees with disabilities without the establishment of specific policies and procedures. As technology applications and user-centric devices to access those applications become ubiquitous, a proactive approach to accessibility is a necessity. The recommended methodology is to integrate accessibility reviews into the earliest stages of design, development, and procurement of Information Technology.

How can businesses begin the process of increasing accessibility?

  • Develop a vision and statement that commits your business to making all programs, services, and resources accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Get the right people involved, including a top-down commitment within the business, but also consider creating an "accessibility team" from within and possibly with outside experts, including people with disabilities, to test, give feedback, and guide the process.
  • Determine and understand your legal obligations to have accessible technology, which may be different based on your business clients, state laws, or other factors. For example, some businesses have faced legal action for not making their Web sites accessible. Not complying with accessibility requirements can result in significant legal costs and have negative impact on the business's reputation.
  • Define your standards to measure and monitor accessibility progress. Consider using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, as developed by the W3C, or Section 508 standards used by the federal government as a model for standards. Please note that as of January 2013, the Section 508 standards are under review and subject to change.
  • Establish policies and processes across different areas of the business, including procurement, use, and development of electronic and information technology. Consider how accessibility issues might be incorporated within existing policies and procedures.
  • Develop a plan for implementation, including dissemination and enforcement.
  • Keep a consistent focus and remain flexible through changes!