Accessibility Investments

 

Many disability-related laws and regulations have required accessibility in the technology arena. Many companies have invested millions to comply only to find in the past that business, government, and non-profit purchasing agents did not care. Investors of accessibility also are finding now that disability advocates are growing in their praise of such corporate support of accessibility requirements.

Highlighting those companies that are investing in accessibility and support for their marketing efforts, by national disability organizations is becoming more accepted.  We will not say that there is a wave of this activity, but there are examples that have made sense like NFB’s relationship with AIRA. Those that are beginning to develop such relationships are being careful to look at the usability and effectiveness of the product before taking the leap.

Many companies have taken the position privately in the past that they will not invest in accessibility until the demand is harming their marketability. That position is fast becoming untenable.

We all know that government and business do not have to buy accessible technology if it does not exist, so what happens if companies stop investing in the development of accessibility? All the laws will not matter if the technology does not exist. There is a slow shift to demanding such accessibility on the part of business, government and nonprofit buyers which is bringing about more accessibility. This means the accessible products and services will exist and their lack will no longer be an excuse.

The concept that accessible information technology (IT) does not end with accessible websites and the documents on those sites is becoming more accepted. It must extend into every aspect of IT from devices to applications and services. Accessibility requirements are turning up in requests for proposals across all of IT and many companies who never considered such in their products and services are now having to do so.

Discussions are taking place with the financiers of new technologies that are encouraging them to require accessibility in the concepts they fund. It opens up the market and yes, mitigates the risk of legal actions. They are beginning to listen.

The cooperation of accessibility developers and disability advocates can only result in a wider range of solutions available to people with disabilities across community life. Supporting the purchase and implementation of new levels of accessible technology will assist business, government, and nonprofits in complying with access requirements and open more opportunities to people with disabilities.