To support the morality of Access Ready’s initiative and to drive an accessible information technology policy into the business, government and nonprofit sectors it is necessary to establish a firm legal foundation. Like the Internet and the new technologies creating capabilities that people are all trying to wrap their arms around, the legal world is also trying to catch up. As technology breaks ground on what is possible, the law must find its own moral path in the light of civil rights to the inclusion of people with disabilities. Does the law require information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities? Morally yes, but then it gets complicated mostly because when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed nothing like today’s information technology or the Internet really existed.
Access Ready needs the best legal mind to guide it and its participants and subject customers on this moral, legal and practical journey. This calls for legal counsel dedicated to implementing the ADA and other civil rights laws through a history of high-impact litigation, advocacy, and strategic consulting. A legal counsel who has held a number of leadership positions across the disability community. A legal professional who has served the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division as Deputy Assistant Attorney General/Senior Counselor and with a history of settlements requiring websites and other technology to be accessible. She has authored findings and settlements challenging discrimination against people with disabilities across a wide range of issues. Access Ready is honored to have EVE L. HILL of the prestigious law firm of Brown Goldstein & Levy support our Execution Team under an engagement agreement as the author of the Legal foundations that stand behind our mission.
With a solid moral and legal path forward Access Ready must also monitor the practical considerations that impact its policy strategy. Capabilities impacts cost, which impacts the timing and all of its affects accessibility. “Inclusion Can’t Wait!”, however, from a practical point of view, it may mean accepting accommodation until true accessibility can be accomplished as development catches up with need and the timing of cost. The practicality of the policy strategy allows for a five-year budget cycle. This means getting to the goal while being reasonable. The timing is not the most important issue, getting to the long-term goal is. Likewise, as accessibility becomes more of a requirement based on customer demand developers will need to apply accessibility features as they learn to meet the needs of the Access Ready Marketplace.
It is the Access Ready marketplace that is the most practical consideration of the policy strategy. There is little question that developers can achieve accessibility given the state of the art. The practical consideration is that in creating an Access Ready customer demand in the marketplace the strategy must convince technology providers that their investment will be rewarded with just such customer demand. It is not enough to make just a moral and legal argument; the strategy must include practical concerns as well. The Access Ready policy creating customer demand in the marketplace is a focal point of the strategy that works in tandem with the development side of accessibility and the demand to provide it.
Douglas George Towne
Chair and Chief Executive Officer
Access Ready Inc.