Determining Your Organization's Accessible Technology Requirements

As discussed in, "Developing an Accessible Technology Plan," a major step in an accessible technology plan is defining what the new technology needs to do in terms of people, processes, and technology.

Sample Accessibility Requirements

Following are sample lists of accessibility requirements or options that employees and customers might require to fully access computers. The lists are intended to provide examples of needs. Your organization will have a unique list of needs depending on the processes, technology, and individuals in your organization.

Employees and customers need to be able to customize by being able to:

  • Change font size, color, and type of text on screen
  • Adjust text and background colors
  • Adjust sound options including the ability to get audio information visually (such as closed captioning or audio descriptions for multi-media) as well as aurally
  • Adjust timings
  • Eliminate or modify the rate of flashing or blinking
  • Get alternatives for touch screen applications
  • Customize toolbars for easy access to buttons used most often
  • Share computers (e.g., during training)
  • Adjust keyboard settings to compensate for impairments such as hand tremors, or people who use select fingers, one hand, or no hands
  • Operate a computer with a keyboard instead of a mouse
  • Increase the visibility of the cursor
  • Add assistive technology products for specific disabilities
  • Use an alternative kind of mouse because of mobility impairments

To effectively manage your business's processes and procedures, the technology needs to provide ways for employees to:

  • Easily access websites
  • Use email and instant messaging to collaborate and communicate
  • Use a word processing system to collaborate
  • Share documents
  • Manage large amounts of data
  • Sort and manage files and folders

To align with your organization's overall technology plan and stay within budget, you'll need to use the current technology to:

  • Determine the accessibility settings and features that can be used with existing operating systems. Use these settings as much as possible.
  • Prioritize your rollout of new technology so that the employees who have the most issues with the existing products get the new installations first. Because any technology rollout is a gradual process, this prioritization based on the access needs of employees should help you to determine how best to carry out your strategy.
  • Roll out the highest priority software first (as determined by your risk analysis described below) to provide the most positive impact.

Sample Technology Assessment Questions

As you prepare your organization's accessible technology plan, you'll also need to assess the current technology so that you can compare it to what is needed.

To do so, you need to evaluate the current hardware, software, and in-house applications and systems. You will also need to investigate upgrade options that fulfill business needs, stay within budget, and offer the most accessibility to the largest number of employees and customers.

Because software used by the most employees will be the most critical, you can compare the cost of upgrading with the potential risk (cost of not upgrading) to determine your best alternatives. For example, server operating systems impact only administrators. Custom in-house applications might be used by a relatively small number of employees, or they might be used by most of your core employees. Assessing the impact for any of your non-accessible software will help determine the risk if that software is not replaced or upgraded.

The following sample list of questions will help you formulate the risk analysis for your organization's technology assessment phase. By answering these questions, you can determine the extent of impact on your employees and customers should the software remain inaccessible. You can then compare the extent of the negative impact and possible repercussions from that impact to determine the risk incurred by not replacing or updating the inaccessible software. That risk can then be compared against the cost of making the software accessible. This comparison will help determine which software is the highest priority for replacing or updating and which is the lowest priority based on low risks and high costs of replacement.

  • Is your core off-the-shelf technology accessible? Evaluate the following:
    • Operating system for employee desktops
    • Operating system for servers
    • Office productivity software
    • Industry-specific applications
  • Are legacy and proprietary systems accessible?
    • Examples include your ordering and billing systems, and software used for shipping packages including software provided by the shipping company
    • Examples of legacy systems are mainframe business applications such as a legacy sales application
  • Are your in-house developed applications accessible for use by your customers or for your own business processes?
    • Is the application used by customers? If it is not accessible, are alternatives offered? Are the alternatives equivalent in functionality, price, and ease of use?
    • Is the application used by employees? If it is not accessible, are alternatives offered? Are the alternatives equivalent in functionality and ease of use? Is use of the application a job requirement? Does everyone need to use the application? How frequently? Is the application used by a small number of employees?