The Access Ready Information Technology Strategy
When the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990, the Internet as we know it today did not exist as the ubiquitous infrastructure for information and commerce. Today the Internet and information technology plays a critical role in the daily personal, professional and business life of Americans. Increasingly entities governed by the (ADA) and other Federal laws are using websites to provide access to their goods, services, and activities. Access Ready’s policy effort assists business, government and the non-profit sectors in providing goods and service delivery to people regardless of their abilities. These policies will accomplish this through the accessible information technology world of the twenty-first century. To do this as a matter of course and not by half-hearted accommodations.
Just like we require that new and modernized buildings be accessible. Why don’t we require that business and government deploy both public and employee-facing information technology that is accessible, through an Access Ready Policy supporting people with disabilities. Not having accessible public facing information technology is saying to 25% or more of the public that their participation is unwelcome. With the level of inaccessibility deemed to be pervasive across information technology, it is necessary to adopt a direct strategy of engagement to bring this issue to the forefront. The process created by Access Ready Inc. will bring the issue directly to the business, government and non-profit sectors in a non-confrontational and reasonable manner. The intent is to seek a solution over the next five budget cycles of the entity.
Access Ready Inc. is a non-profit 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. to never 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 it’s technical findings, policy discussions and advocacy efforts available to the public through Access Ready.org it’s social media stream and other public relations efforts.
Too much emphasis has been placed on providing accommodations for people with disabilities as an excuse for not providing accessibility. Often such accommodations rely on inadequately trained and time-limited frontline staff resulting in poor or simply unavailable goods and service delivery to the person with a disability. We must not allow accommodation to become a barrier to accessibility in the twenty-first century.
Stage one of the Access Ready Policy effort includes a review of business, government, and nonprofit websites for compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This review will provide evidence from the usability, document, and video captioning accessibility point of view. Stage one contact with reviewed entities will take place using email, direct mail, and telephone over seventy-five days in three waves.
Stage one of the Access Ready Environments Policy will inform reviewed entities (subject customers) of the findings and provide examples of accessibility issues. Local, State and National advocates for people with disabilities will be engaged in the process when and where ever possible to support outcomes. The communications will invite reviewed subject customers to put in place an Access Ready policy designed to make their information technology accessible over the following five budget cycles. Where critical access is required like emergency services and access to the election system, subject customers will be asked to make those systems a priority. For entities who refuse to discuss accessibility, stage two will bring structured negotiations into play.
Stage two of the Access Ready information technology strategy provides for a direct mail communications process that presents the issues to the general legal counsel of reviewed subject customers. This seventy-five-day process is designed to engage legal counsel in a structured negotiations process. The goal of which is to assure that the reviewed subject customer understands the seriousness of the issue and puts an Access Ready policy in place. Access Ready’s Director of Structured Negotiations will lead this process from a policy perspective. Reviewed subject customers who refuse to engage will be revealed publicly. Accessible information technology has great possibilities if we can agree to do what is right.