Accessibility as the New Standard

This century has opened with a dawn of new technologies that offer freedom of action and participation at levels never before achieved by many people with disabilities. The reverse is also true when designs do not incorporate accessibility making the new technology a punitive barrier. It does not have to be that way. The new technologies that are being revealed almost every day are in many cases truly amazing. Accessibility is becoming the new standard. Accessible technology is vital to the disabled at home and in the workplace. Many who previously found that their investment in accessibility did not result in sales, even when mandated by law, are finding now that those mandates are opening up the market. The ADA and Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act require that technology be accessible at the Federal level with many states now following suit. The vendors are willing and the insistence of advocates is resulting in buyers complying with the law. The developers that have invested millions in product accessibility are finding a growing willingness at all levels to require accessibility as the new standard. Government and big business employees with disabilities are insisting on a level technology playing field with their coworkers and the public with disabilities are looking for access to the same goods and services available to the rest of the public on an equal footing. Yes, there are those still fighting accessibility demands in court, but they are learning that accessibility will not be refused. While it is not going the way of accessibility every time we see that, more often than not, there are sympathetic ears understanding the need. Much is being accomplished through forthright negotiation while other advocates are choosing the path of litigation. We can disagree with the tactics of some, but we should look at the cumulative result of all the activity. We are in no way where we need to be and we need to keep pressing, but over time it is being accepted that accessibility is the new standard.