Innovation starts with culture. Accessibility is a part of innovation and culture. Accessibility simply means that goods and services are attainable for all. Accessibility is the key to a normal life and work experience for those with disabilities. Accessibility is the cornerstone for diversity, inclusion, and profitability. Accessibility is also a legal necessity - not just a “nice to have” but a “need to have.”
Innovation starts with culture. Accessibility is a part of innovation and culture. Accessibility simply means that goods and services are attainable for all. Accessibility is the key to a normal life and work experience for those with disabilities. Accessibility is the cornerstone for diversity, inclusion, and profitability. Accessibility is also a legal necessity – not just a “nice to have” but a “need to have.”
Organizations — from the C-suite to entry-level employees — must unite to ensure that accessibility is prioritized when developing and creating digital properties. ITC believes tasks and projects should be within reach for all – regardless of physical or cognitive ability. When every user is given the tools to succeed, organizations benefit.
What is Accessibility
Leaders should strive for full accessibility awareness – an understanding of the needs of disabled people and their disabilities. Accessibility ensures all people can understand, navigate, and interact with digital electronic information – a must amidst rising virtual work. For those with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities, accessibility determines whether/how they can participate in the workforce.
How to Achieve Accessibility Awareness
Accessibility requires dedicated staff, processes, and policies to support proper prioritization and resourcing. As a web accessibility specialist, my role is to design accessible websites, documents, memos, and publications that deliver information and services. Browsing the internet, using social media, or texting on phones is a part of our daily routine. These are simple tasks for most of us, but without proper preparation, not for all of us. Websites are at times the only point of contact between businesses and people with disabilities. Without proper preparation, websites can be unapproachable for disabled people:
- It can be a hardship for people who cannot read print material to comprehend text-only
- People with difficulty physically operating technology may struggle with websites/digital properties
This is resolved by creating accessible websites and electronic documents that allow users to obtain information regardless of individual needs. To reach this goal, ITC works with leaders to answer three questions about their organization:
- Who is your audience?
- What is your audience struggling with?
- What are your goals?
With these answers in hand, we are able to lay out steps for them to change their culture to achieve their goals of accessibility and accessibility awareness.
How ITC Can Help
For over a decade, ITC successfully supported the needs of users with disabilities, in compliance with Section 508. We believe this is simply the right way to do business and our development and test procedures incorporate compliance standards. The standard starting point for both guidance and tools is http://www.section508.gov. The ITC Team successfully deployed 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1194-compliant systems for the SSA and other Federal Agencies.
In evaluating emerging technologies, it is our obligation to deliver all new solutions to comply with electronic and information technology accessibility provisions. Our evaluation process provides techniques to evaluate the utility of new technologies before full-scale deployment in a 508 compliant environment. Our capability serves to enhance your solution while maximizing the value of technology investments and reducing risk of accessibility or compliances issues.
We document Section 508 requirements to confirm and verify compliance. Any procurement, custom application, web development, or training material development is subject to verification. Testing (unit, systems, acceptance, etc.) validates compliance. This process ensures that Section 508 requirements are met and that records of the compliance checks are maintained.
ITC stands ready to support accessibility for government agencies striving toward a more inclusive culture and is committed to providing accessible tools to our own workforce.