Designing Accessibility From The Outset

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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.