People with disabilities want to be independent; they want to do things for themselves by themselves. This is a fundamental issue of human dignity, which is enshrined and enacted in good corporate responsibility and legislation, and also enabled by good business practice. Disabled people may be amongst your staff and will be an increasingly large proportion of your client base too.
Businesses need to make ICT accessible to clients and employees with disabilities for the following reasons:
- Social: all organisations have corporate social responsibilities, including universal access to their goods and services; supporting the requirements of customers, clients and staff with disabilities is an essential components of these responsibilities.
- Financial: increased revenue will emerge from a broader client base, not just people with disabilities but also ethically driven consumers and the mildly challenged. Reduced cost will emerge from increased productivity of staff, both disabled and able. Finally, cost of sales will be reduced by automated accessible customer support.
- Legal: Failure to comply with disability discrimination legislation may lead to compensation claims, fines and even jail sentences. This Spotlight paper examines the definition of accessibility, the benefits of accessibility, the risks of non-compliance, and the tools and techniques required to implement accessible solutions.
Much of the discussion about ICT accessibility centres around website accessibility; although it is a significant area all other areas of ICT such as thick clients, application suites, personal productivity tools, mobile phones and PDAs must also be made accessible. ICT solutions, by their nature, tend to cross international boundaries and so creators of the solutions need to comply and conform with standards and legislation worldwide.