AN ACCESS READY, INCLUSION CAN’T WAIT LISTENING SESSION
To highlight the discussion supporting the Access Ready strategy, we will be hosting a series of Inclusion Can’t Wait Listening Sessions across the nation in conjunction with local, state and national events. The disability community, as well as leaders from information technology, business, and government, will be invited to join the discussion, providing an opportunity for advocates and users to discuss needs with the right people who can develop and implement the accessible technologies called for by the community. These events are being held in keeping with Access Ready’s motto Inclusion Can’t Wait, which is not just a slogan. It is a guidepost, a philosophy and rallying battle cry for people with disabilities. Our first session will be at the NFB Texas convention this week in the Dallas area. The development of new technology with all its lights, beeps, bells, touchscreens and Possibilities are coming so fast and furious today, that it is hard to decipher what is of value and what is just another distracting toy. There are many things in the consumer space that pretend to be of value and could be if they had not been rushed to market. We have all been disappointed, many times, in a new product because it did not really do what we were counting on it to do. Likewise, technologies that we expect to see are not deployed. Access Ready, Inclusion Can’t Wait sessions are designed to advance development and deployment by putting the right people in the room for a fruitful exchange. Disability-related laws and regulations require accessibility in the technology arena like Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and parallel state laws. Companies have invested millions to comply only to find that purchasing agents do not care. Investors in accessibility, find that disability advocates are lackluster in their praise of such accessibility investment. We all know that government and business do not have to buy accessible technology if it does not exist. What happens if companies stop investing in the development of accessibility? All the laws will not matter if the technology does not exist. The Access Ready Inclusion Can’t Wait Listening Sessions are designed to open a dialogue between developers, purchasers, and users with disabilities who know what is needed and missing in technology. Just imagine the result if those who understand disability access needs, at the life and policy levels, were to meet with those who have the skills, funding, and marketability to take on challenges. What would be the result? Would we see barriers overcome by new ideas? Technologies of true importance? We are not saying that many technologies entering the market are not already truly important. We are suggesting that bringing together the right people from the disability, technology and purchasing worlds might see the emergence of specifically purposed technologies designed to solve emerging or long-standing issues. The Access Ready, Inclusion Can’t Wait Listening Sessions will foster such discussions and seek answers to why necessary technologies are not being implemented when they are available.
Access Ready Inclusion Can’t Wait Listening Sessions will not be allowed to degenerate into chaos. They will be tightly controlled diplomatic exchanges with an agenda hosted by a moderator who will assure that everyone has the time to get their point across. The number of people involved matters less than the quality of the discussion. The agenda will include items of national interest as well as those particular to the state and local community. We will also include particular disability group issues. Reports after each listening session will be issued and made available to all interested parties. The Listening Sessions are intended to inspire the idea behind, Inclusion Can’t Wait! This is hopefully where ideas, alliances, plans, and movements will be formed and inspired.