Access Ready joins the National Council on Independent Living in Mourning the Loss of Marca Bristo

Associate Facilitators Gathering Amongst a Field of Flags

 

Access Ready joins the National Council on Independent Living in Mourning the Loss of Marca Bristo

“To our NCIL family,

It is with a heavy heart that we write to inform you of the passing of Marca Bristo. Marca passed away on Sunday, September 8 from cancer.. Until stepping down just recently because of her prognosis, Marca was President and CEO of Access Living, the Center for Independent Living she founded in Chicago, IL nearly 40 years ago. She co-founded NCIL in 1982 and served as our second President. Marca was a tireless activist who dedicated her life to fighting for disability rights, and the Independent Living community has lost an incredible advocate and friend.

Sarah Launderville, NCIL’s President and long-time friend of Marca described Marca as a force and a kindred spirit. Sarah said, “Marca was a trailblazing advocate. She had a very kind heart and built relationships, and she also had a sharp edge that got things done. She will be deeply missed, and my heart goes out to the IL community as we grieve this incredible loss.”

Marca was a staunch advocate for local, national, and international disability rights for over four decades. In addition to her roles with Access Living and NCIL, she served as the first disabled Chair of the National Council on Disability (NCD) from 1994-2002 and more recently as the President of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities. Her advocacy led to some of our community’s biggest achievements, including helping to author the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and participating in negotiations for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Marca has received numerous awards and honors for her disability rights work including: the Distinguished Service Award of the President of the United States in 1992; the Henry B. Betts Laureate in 1993; the 2007 Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine; being selected as a co-chair of Governor Pritzker’s Transition Committee on Human Rights; and just this summer, being awarded NCIL’s Max Starkloff Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Annual NCIL Conference.

Kelly Buckland, NCIL’s Executive Director, said, “I will remember Marca for a lot of reasons, but the one that most often comes to mind was my first NCIL Conference in 1989. Marca was President of NCIL and led a March on the White House to get President George H.W.. Bush to support the ADA. That led to a meeting between the NCIL leadership and the White House the next morning, and eventually led to White House support for the ADA. She was truly a great leader and I am honored that I got to know and work with her. The world is a better place because of her.”

Marca was in a league of her own. The Independent Living Movement has lost a passionate and visionary leader. She will be missed dearly, but her memory will certainly live on. And, as a previous Board Member and leader in the Independent Living movement, Marca’s picture will be added to the Wall of Fame in the NCIL office.

We would like to express our sincere condolences to Marca’s family and friends during this difficult time. A private funeral and burial will be held for Marca’s family. A public memorial service will be announced at a later date.”

 

Labor is the Key

American Flag with blue sky and white clouds

On Labor Day we thank the men and women who have built America. Those that have toiled to build the
railroads, bridges, tunnels and great buildings to those who create ships, airplanes, automobiles and the
rockets that took us to the moon. We are all a part of the great American workforce. Now comes the twenty-first
century with the need to keep building the dreams of people into an accessible livable future. It is information
technology that is lighting the way to that future. The potential of accessible information technology means that
people with disabilities can be a greater part of the American labor force than ever before. The 70%
unemployment rate of the disabled today can become a mystery of the past.
People with disabilities represent one of the greatest untapped labor resources in the nation’s history. With the
advent of information and emerging technologies the frustrations of how to best utilize this resource can fade
away. Technology is turning limitations of the past like difficulties in transportation, the need to communicate
electronically and the desire to work from home into great advantages. A great shift away from the brick and
mortar workplaces of the past is taking place, just as the self-employment (subcontractor) trend is putting more
control in the hands of workers at all levels. These shifts in labor mean greater flexibility for both the workers
and those needing the work done. Control that will be of great advantage to workers with disabilities.
When I became blind in 1967, the unemployment rate among people with disabilities was 70% or higher. Today
it is still the same. Throughout our history, politicians and bureaucrats love to bemoan rising unemployment
numbers or trumpet rising employment rates. Seldom if ever do the same individuals highlight the
unemployment rates among the disabled. This is a shameful reality across government entities. Yes, we spend
billions on rehabilitation without much result as evidenced by the unreasonably high unemployment rate among
the disabled. Is this because there is no real policy shift that supports the employment of people with
disabilities? A policy shift like the Access Ready Environments Initiative. Without such policy shifts all the
rehabilitation money possible will make little difference.
Throwing money at a problem is often only half of the solution. Complex social issues like the rehabilitation and
integration of people with disabilities into the mainstream workforce require a paradigm shift in thinking and
behavior. This must begin and be supported by policy changes. The Americans With Disabilities Act has
proven that you cannot just pass a law and throw money at a problem to bring about such fundamental change.
The information technology age has brought about an even greater opportunity to support such a policy shift.
Over the next five years we must move toward building an Access Ready Environment through information
technology. It is a shift that can have great long-term effect on the employment of people with disabilities.
As a paradigm shifting movement the Access Ready Environments Initiative is beginning where all great
change starts to build toward a tipping point, which is the local level. While it can also be the most difficult it is
in the cities and counties where people really see the need and can change policy which is understood as “just
doing the right thing”. It is true that this is where the most parochial attitudes and uneducated stubbornness is
found, but it is the goodness of people who will overcome this entrenched opposition. Through this initiative we
can change the employment landscape for people with disabilities utilizing accessible information technology if
we will only require it in a rising tide that shows labor is the key.

If We Don’t Fail

In the past millennium, the mind of humanity gave the printed word to the masses, gave individual freedoms their greatest opportunity, freed many from slavery, and began the industrial revolution easing the burdens of millions while providing opportunities to many more. We harnessed wind, water, fire and the movement of people and revolutionized government.

In the last century, we probed the depths of the oceans, took to the air, stepped foot on another world and eradicated diseases. We took the industrial revolution from the mechanical to the intellectual through the evolution of information technology. We split the atom, mapped the human gene and so much more.

The knowledge base of humankind is online for all to access and our understanding is growing by leaps and bounds at a rate multiplied by the speed of thought enhanced by the power of faster and faster information technology.

As we celebrate the two hundred and forty-third anniversary of the beginning of the American revolution, we can look back with great pride at the accomplishments of the republic through its people.

With the exception of native Americans who are the only true possessors of this land, we are all immigrants from other lands. Our ancestors came here seeking a better life and to build something new.

Our collective and individual drive, ingenuity and sheer fortitude in the face of great odds and adversity made America what it is.

Not a place of one religion, creed or color.

Not a place of those who have and those who have less. Not a place of hereditary privilege or poverty.

Not a place where you are judged by who or what your parents were, but by what each of us makes of the opportunity we each have as Americans.

We The People have fought mighty wars to defeat such contentions, making it clear that we will not be such people.

There has been a growing feeling that we have somehow lost our greatness. A feeling fostered and grown by those who clearly do not understand the true heart of the American people.

We The People understand all too well what is going on. After all, it is We The People who hold the ultimate responsibility of how our government behaves.

Looking back we know what we have done and looking forward we know what the genius and generosity of We The People can do.

America must lead across so many fronts in the twenty-first century.

The inventiveness of our people knows no bounds. We can not even imagine the concepts, technologies, and expansion of abilities that are to come. The freedom that will come through such growth if we assure that all can utilize and participate in the miracles of the future.

In this, we are not talking just about making things accessible to people with disabilities, but accessible to all.

We The People have made hard choices in the past to do the right things. We again face such hard choices but have within ourselves the truth, justice, and compassion to bring American ideals to ourselves, our posterity and to the world.

Why do millions come to add their flame to our great torch of freedom? There are as many reasons as there are people, but it can be summed up in one word. Opportunity.

We as a nation are still struggling with this thing called freedom and how to make it work for all. It is the stories of those seeking the freedom that we want to hear the least, that we need to hear the most. They remind us of why America exists.

We The People have the capacity within ourselves to grow our freedoms until their light shines into every dark corner at home and abroad.

No, we should not police of the world, but we can grow freedom by example.

Give access to all. Make sure no one is left out. Make real the freedoms we each hold in our hearts.

Freedom of expression, speech, and worship

Freedom from fear, ignorance, and want

Freedom from dishonesty, exclusion, and immorality

Freedom of aspiration, invention, and empowerment

 

We can have all these things and bring them again to the world by example if we don’t fail.

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.

Government and Disability Rights Law

Support Access Ready, Inc.

Beyond Websites – Government Technologies and Disability Rights Law

By Eve L. Hill

Inclusivity Consulting

Public Access

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), covering all state and local governments, was enacted in 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, covering all recipients of federal funding, has been in place since 1973. These laws are unequivocal:  they require covered entities to ensure their public communications are equally effective for people with disabilities as for people without disabilities.  The Department of Justice has made clear that Title II requires all services, programs, and activities of public entities, including those provided or received via kiosks, electronic voting machines, emergency alert systems, public address and notification systems to be accessible.

Equally effective communication generally means people with disabilities can access or acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same products and services that the government’s communications offer its sighted participants with substantially equivalent ease of use.  All types of communication are covered – including information technology (IT)-based communication.  To be effective, accessible communications must be provided in a timely manner, and in such a way as to protect the privacy and independence of the individual with a disability.  These requirements apply to both communications the state or local government makes to members of the community and communications it receives from the community.

The only defenses available are when the state or local government documents in advance, and can prove, that, using all its available resources, it is too difficult or too expensive to accomplish accessible communication or it would fundamentally alter the nature of the communication or program to make it accessible.  Even if one of those defenses applies, the government entity is required to do everything it can to provide accessible communication up to the point where the burden becomes too great.

So if a state or local government agency, department, or office is providing information, services, programs, or activities to the public via communication technology, or if it is receiving information, requests, complaints, applications,  and the likefrom the public via IT, it ignores the accessibility of those communications at its own peril.

In the bygone era of just paper-and-pencil documents and in-person or telephone communications, equally effective communication generally meant providing large print, taped texts, and Braille formats for documents, and using sign language interpreters, relay services, and captioning for meetings and telephone calls.  These are known in the ADA and Section 504 as auxiliary aids and services.  As we have entered the age ofinfornation technologies, auxiliary aids and services have also advanced technologically.  A digital technology can be made accessible to blind and low vision people by ensuring the information it conveys can be provided both visually and audibly (or in tactile form) and that both visual and nonvisual means of inputting information are available.  For example, information or registration kiosks can provide a headset jack allowing audio output of all visual information and a device with touchscreen input can include a tactile keyboard or keypad, audio navigation.  Similarly, captioning for video and audio information is readily available for people with hearing disabilities.

If a government uses an information technology that is not accessible, the government will have to maintain an equivalent system for communicating with people with disabilities.  That separate accessible system, whether it is a staff person onsite at the information device, a staffed telephone line, or some other means, is likely to be expensive and may still violate the ADA’s requirement of equally effective communication.  A staff-based substitute for an information kiosk, for example, would need to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, just as the kiosk is.  The staff would need to be prepared to orally provide all the information on the kiosk, and carry out transactions for a blind person.  The staff would need to be prepared to transcribe or interpret all the speech and audio content of videos and audio programming.  And the staff would need to be prepared to accurately and privately input any information the person with a disability wanted to communicate back to the government agency.  All of this would need to be timely, accurate, and complete, while not placing additional burdens on the person with a disability and while maintaining their privacy and independence.

Accessible technology does not happen automatically.  In order to avoid the expensive, noncompliant fall-back system of access, state and local government leaders, as well as their technology designers, technology vendors, content creators, and communicators, have to incorporate accessibility as a matter of course, not as an exception, both when developing or purchasing new technology or content, and as part of a planned remediation strategy.

 

 

Inaccessible Dallas Texas

Inaccessible Dallas Texas

Part 1

Douglas George Towne

Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Access Ready Inc.

 

This year the home of the free will celebrates the twenty-ninth anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). https://www.ada.gov/. Yet from sea to shining sea we find accessibility not to be commonplace, but rather an issue from the smallest to largest businesses, governments, and nonprofits among us. This article is broken into four parts because the seriousness of the subject requires the facts of the situation across Inaccessible Dallas County. (https://www.dallascountyvotes.org/ , https://www.dallascounty.org/, https://dallascityhall.com/ )

As the world has turned and spawned the new technologies that now drive the engines of our civic, social and economic lives the ADA’s promises of inclusion are being overlooked and perhaps in some cases intentionally left out.

The potential for widespread accessibility across information Technology (IT) is being thwarted by attitudes best left to the dust bins of history. Yes, there are issues with being able to shop online, apply for employment, and even be productive on the job for many people with disabilities frustrated by inaccessible websites, software programs, and new IT products and services of all kinds. But we must address the most egregious assault on modern-day liberty in our civic lives.

Title II of the ADA covers all state and local government activities, was enacted in 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, covering all recipients of federal funding, has been in place since 1973. These laws are unequivocal: they require covered entities to ensure their public communications are equally effective for people with disabilities as for people without disabilities. The Department of Justice has made clear that Title II requires all services, programs, and activities of public entities, including those provided through the Internet or other technology, to be accessible.

Great bastions of outwardly democratic and inclusive ideals like Dallas County in the State of Texas are openly flaunting the civil rights of people with disabilities and the laws that protect them.

Although major leadership organizations like the American Council of the Blind, National Federation of the Blind and others have taken public positions requiring accessibility across information technologies including emerging systems like poll books Inaccessible Dallas County has chosen not to require goods and services to be accessible. It is not just the city, county and election websites that are inaccessible, but they have taken even greater steps to grow inaccessibility and discrimination.

In a request for proposals (RFP) (2018-049-6742.RFP.Election.electronic poll book.MI) issued by the Dallas County Elections Department, Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole apparently refused to require that new poll book systems be accessible to people with disabilities.

Incredibly we have been given to understand that when this oversight was pointed out Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole seemingly refused to even look at accessible products or revise the RFP.

Access Ready and others are continuing to review this situation, more to follow.

 

About Access Ready

Access Ready Inc. is a nonprofit cross-disability education and advocacy organization promoting a policy of inclusion and accessibility across information technology through education and best practices.

It shall be Policy One of Access Ready Inc. never to be a plaintiff in and/or financially support any legal action or lawsuit related to the accessibility or inaccessibility of any information technology software, hardware or service.

Further Access Ready Inc. shall make the results of its technical findings, policy discussions and advocacy efforts available to the public through accessready.org, its social media stream, and other public relations efforts.

The Board of Directors of Access Ready has deemed inaccessible information technology to be a clear, growing and present danger to the civic, economic and social welfare of people with disabilities.

We would welcome your support.

Access Ready Business

American Flag with blue sky and white clouds

Access Ready Business
When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990, the Internet as we know it
today did not exist as the ubiquitous marketplace for information, goods, and services. Neither did
the information technology-driven workplace. Today, the ADA's promise that individuals with
disabilities would be able to participate in all aspects of American, civic, and economic life will be
achieved in today's technologically advanced society depends on businesses understanding that their
success, as well as their legal obligations, depending on their information technology systems being
accessible.
Today, the Internet and information technology (IT) plays a critical role in the daily, personal,
professional, and business life of Americans. More and more, the Internet and IT are central to the
workplace and to how business does business.
Access Ready Inc. is a nonprofit cross-disability advocacy organization promoting a policy of
inclusion and accessibility across information technology through education and best practices. It
shall be Policy One of Access Ready Inc. never to be a plaintiff in and/or financially support any
legal action or lawsuit related to the accessibility or inaccessibility of any information technology
software, hardware or service. Further Access Ready Inc. shall make the results of its technical
findings, policy discussions and advocacy efforts available to the public through accessready.org, its
social media stream, and other public relations efforts. The Board of Directors of Access Ready has
deemed inaccessible information technology to be a clear, growing, and present danger to the civic,
economic, and social welfare of people with disabilities and we would welcome your support.
Increasingly, many businesses covered under Title III of the (ADA) are using websites to market
themselves and to provide direct access to their goods, services, and activities. To support these
activities the internal or employee facing operations of the business is also driven by IT. Without
addressing the accessibility of both their internal and external IT, businesses risk losing out on the
approximately 20% of American customers and employees who have disabilities.
Access Ready policy advances accessibility across the web and information technology.
Many business websites and other IT are difficult or impossible for individuals with disabilities to
use because the technology does not interface with the adaptive technology used by people with
disabilities. Being unable to access websites and information technology puts individuals with
disabilities at a great disadvantage in today's society and starves businesses of potential customers
and potential workers.
Like curb ramps to sidewalks, building bridges between the standard IT and the assistive technology
used by people with disabilities is accomplishable and necessary to allow people with disabilities to
access the systems that are foundational to our workplaces and civic spaces. Also, like curb ramps,
these bridges benefit everyone – with and without disabilities. And including accessibility features,
like including curb ramps, from the beginning means they are affordable and seamless. The Access
Ready Environment is one where website and information technology accessibility is designed from
the outset and is not an afterthought as it is so often today. Businesses that embrace an Access
Ready policy can accomplish this over a five-year budget cycle without real difficulty.
For many, it is now difficult to imagine a world without the unprecedented access to information
that the web provides. Businesses large and small are increasingly providing customers access to

goods and services through their websites. Electronic commerce, or e-commerce, often offer
consumers a wider selection and lower prices than traditional brick-and-mortar” storefronts. For
individuals with disabilities who experience barriers to their ability to travel, the Internet may be
their only way to access certain goods and services. The availability of these services online not only
makes life easier for customers but allows businesses to operate more efficiently and cost-
effectively, as it reduces the overhead costs of retail locations and on-site sales staff. Businesses to
ignore people with disabilities as a market for goods and services is a tremendous mistake. This
minority now represents twenty-five percent of the general population according to the Centers for
Disease Control. The disability community represents three hundred billion dollars plus a year in
disposable income.
Further, why would it be acceptable not to provide access to online goods and services to people
with disabilities? No other minority would stand for such limitations and society would not allow
such a thing. It is a fact that the Internet is dramatically changing the way that businesses serve their
customers. More and more customers with disabilities are asserting their rights to access through
litigation. By adopting an Access Ready policy business can achieve and maintain accessibility on
the web and through their IT.
People with disabilities also represent a vast untapped talent pool ready to join the workforce.
Accessible internal and back-office IT opens up many employment opportunities. Given the
competition for good employees in today’s economy, the availability of qualified unemployed and
underemployed workers with disabilities, the supportive services and accommodations offered by
state and federal tax-payer funded programs, such as Vocational Rehabilitation, and the tax and
business incentives in place for employing people with disabilities, it is foolish for business not to
seek out qualified individuals with disabilities. Making internal and external IT accessible is the
foundation that makes it possible for companies to increase their customer base and their employee
pool.
What is needed is the adoption of an Access Ready policy that applies to IT across the economy. An
Access Ready policy establishes a commitment, a framework, and clear roadmap to achieving
accessibility, increasing customers, and improving employee skill and productivity, as well as
fulfilling legal civil rights obligations.

Access Ready; The Moral, Legal and Practical Foundation

Civil Rights Attorney Eve Hill wearing a blue suit near office window

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.

Access Ready Advocacy

Stephen Handschu in a black hat and jacket
Stephen M. Handschu

Hard Core Advocacy is the Foundation

Access Ready Inc. is fundamentally a nonprofit national cross disability rights advocacy organization. Since the beginning of the disability rights movement with all its names and slogans many great advocates have done their part along the way. Some were leaders with too many illustrious names to mention here without leaving someone out. Most of the real hardcore work though has been done by the millions of advocates whose names have been lost to history. Like the countless millions who have died on battle fields fighting for freedom who we remember with honor, these disability rights advocates are known by name only to their friends and families. Access Ready honors them all and can only hope to follow in their tradition of selfless service as it begins its twenty first century advocacy work.

Hard core advocacy takes personal dedication, the willingness to learn and a clear goal. It also takes the ability to propose objectives with dispassionate logic, factual truth and a willingness to compromise. The key is advancing the cause of disability rights even if it is in small incremental steps. The march of history shows us that yesterday was pro-log to today, which is a sign of changes to come tomorrow. In negotiations as objection gives way to compromise everyone knows that today’s steps forward will only lead to the ultimate objective in the tomorrows to come. Access Ready advocacy works in this way with a willingness to reach objectives in a time frame acceptable to the developers and managers of information technology as long as the compromise is reasonable.

Compromise is the currency of civil discourse when right is on your side. The passionate advocacy of youth gives way to compromise as we as individuals and the movement learn the pace of history. An advocate who understands the history of disability rights from a first-person perspective is an invaluable resource. An advocate who has worked for the rights of many with and without disabilities is an inestimable leader able to guide the advocacy efforts of today. An advocate who is a world-renowned sculptor who has also walked side by side with other giants of civil rights brings more than fifty years of luster to the efforts he joins. Access Ready Inc. is honored to welcome Stephen M. Handschu to its Board of Directors.

Access Ready is looking for advocates to work with us on the accessibility of information technology. In the twenty first century, information technology has become the life blood of economic, social and civic life. The proliferation of inaccessible technologies is a growing problem that is leaving people with disabilities behind by leaps and bounds. Access Ready Inc was founded to mount a singular challenge to this growing inaccessibility. We consider inaccessible information technology to be a growing clear and present danger to the economic, social and civic lives of people with disabilities and ask your help in this national effort. The issue is so great and growing that we don’t need a few advocates, but rather a great number to join us through our Associate-Facilitator program. Email your interest to input@accessready.org
Access Ready’s Associate-Facilitator program is designed to fund advocacy efforts related to accessible information technology. The funding is in place and this is your opportunity to do what you love and earn while you do it as an independent Associate-Facilitator with Access Ready Inc. Beginning in the first quarter of 2019 the tools, training and support can be yours to work with us on this most important effort. Whether you’re new to advocacy or an old hand we need you to recruit others and advocate across the nation for accessible information technology. Make a real difference in the future. Email your interest to input@accessready.org

 

Designing Accessibility From The Outset

Access Ready Logo
Dr. Paul Michaelis standing between the United States flag and Federal Communications Commission emblem
Dr. Paul Michaelis

Shifting Sands

The world of information technology is much like standing on shifting sand. As soon as you figure out one new technology then another comes along that is better, faster and more capable. The minds of technologists and the competitive nature of the marketplace are driving invention at the speed of thought. Now Access Ready is jumping into that world to foster new thoughts of accessibility among the best and the brightest technology minds around the world. The challenge is to make new the realm of invention with accessibility designed in from the outset and not an afterthought. Accessible technology is no longer a stretch. The tools that are needed are sitting on the shelf begging to be integrated into new products and services.
What was once the fantasy of science fiction is now common place. Powerful handheld computers disguised as phones give us literal access to the world. Captain Kirk wishes he had an Android or iPhone. Information technology has changed almost everything from the armed forces to zoology. The Internet has made the world a smaller place as cyberspace encompasses us all. The personal and professional lives of billions of people are now enhanced and given power through the expanding capabilities of information technology. The issue is that much of the tsunami of new technologies are not accessible to people with disabilities so the personal and professional advantages given to others are not available to those with expanded needs where employment and community life is concerned.
A reason why manufacturers of mainstream products have tended to oppose accessibility laws and regulations is their belief that revenue and profit will be harmed. An objective of Access Ready will be to identify innovative solutions that address the needs of people with disabilities without imposing a financial burden. In support of this objective, Dr. Paul Roller Michaelis will be joining the Access Ready Board of Directors. Paul received his Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University in 1978. He retired recently as a Distinguished Engineer at Avaya Incorporated, prior to which he had been a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Bell Labs. Paul has 120 U.S. and 53 foreign patents, many of which describe technologies and products that support people with disabilities. He is a recipient of the Access Innovation Award from the Association of Access Engineering Specialists and has been an invited, voting member of Federal advisory committees, including the Telecommunications and Electronic Information Technology Advisory Committee that authored the new Section 508 regulations. We are proud that Dr. Michaelis has chosen Access Ready as the organization that will allow him to continue developing innovative, successful solutions for people with disabilities.
To present the challenge of making information technology accessible to people with disabilities to the best and brightest, Access Ready Inc. needs just such people to shape the discussion. A way to offer your advocacy, technical guidance and to get involved is through input@accessready.org where you can email the accessible technology team directly with advisories about inaccessible technologies, websites and your new ideas for products and services that will expand accessibility. Located on the accessready.org home page just clicks and send in your thoughts. The team will respond to all input as quickly as possible. Reports about inaccessible websites will trigger a survey of the site and potentially cause a communication to the owners of the site about the issues found. You can, of course, email the technology team directly at input@accessready.org.
The shifting sands of the information technology world are a challenge to keep up with. It is also a path to accessibility because new concepts and versions of products and services are under development all the time. Access Ready intends to inject accessibility into the ongoing development discussion when and wherever possible.

Douglas George Towne

Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Access Ready Inc.