Technology meets accessibility

Over the last decade Americans have truly become a wired society. If you disagree with this statement, stop and observe the sheer number of mobile devices and the households that have internet access. Due to the fact that more and more individuals are coming online the reality of addressing the accessibility raises to the forefront.

The United States Census Bureau conducted a survey titled American Community Survey back in 2006 and estimated 193,568,216 Americans have a disability of which 13,667,248 are directly related to employment disabilities. Physical disabilities are typically what comes to mind when thinking of accessibility, but it is equally important to keep in mind the process of aging and the potential loss of vision, hearing, and motor skills associated with simply growing older. The statistics in the area of disabilities are difficult to overlook and demonstrate a true challenge to many Americans.

As a greater number of people gain access to the internet, so does the need to ensure everyone can easily use the internet. Accessibility in the context of usability becomes much more important when one begins to account for each and every individual that will be consuming a service. On 23 July, 2010 the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) released Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Accessibility of Web Information and Services Provided by Entities Covered by the American Disabilities Act (ADA). This notice is important from the aspect of services that companies provide to their internal and external customers.

As we move further into the world of accessibility it is important to remember the key aspect is users. The user community as a whole will benefit from websites and content that is designed with accessibility in mind. Websites are typically the digital medium that comes to mind when you begin thinking of barriers, but in reality it extends much further. Stop and consider for a moment your own personal daily activities and the wide range of content that you’re exposed to. Chances are you work with a variety of documents that may include but are not limited to Word documents, PDF documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint slides, and the daily grind of email. As you can see a trend begins to develop and taking in account this trend have you ever considered that the person on the receiving end of the digital artifact may have a disability?

It is important to understand the definition of disability per the federal government standards. Agencies by and large use definitions that is specific to a law or set of laws. For example, The Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act are nondiscrimination laws that define a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, an individual who has a history or record of an impairment, or an individual that is perceived by others as having an impairment.

Fell free to download the following wallpaper to keep accessibility as fore thought rather than and after thought.

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