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
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
- 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)
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
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
- 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?