The Business Value of Integrating Accessible Technology into Business Organizations
Businesses today are looking for solutions to empower and retain employees—and accessible
technology can help do just that. From
Technology in Today's Business, business leaders learn about the benefits
of integrating accessible technology into corporate technology plans. Accessible
technology helps businesses keep great employees, recruit from a larger pool of
candidates, and enhance team collaboration and communication among all employees—including
those with disabilities.
It's important for businesses to consider the number of people impacted by physical
and mental impairments. One study found that 101.4 million working-age adults (ages
18 to 64) in the United States have a mild or severe difficulty/impairment (Source:
Study commissioned by Microsoft, conducted by Forrester Research, Inc. 2003).
In addition, large numbers of people experience temporary impairments caused by
illness or accident that impact their abilities on the job. The aging of the workforce
adds another dimension. Consider that by 2008, 40 percent of the workforce will
be comprised of aging computer users who will, in growing numbers, experience physical impairments
due to the natural aging process. Providing technology that helps valued employees
remain productive makes good business sense. Following are highlights of the business
value of integrating accessible technology.
Retain the Most Valued Employees
Accessible technology, which accommodates visual, hearing, mobility, learning, and
language impairments, helps organizations retain talented employees who develop
temporary or permanent disabilities, and those who develop impairments due to the
natural aging process. Retaining employees helps eliminate the high cost of hiring
and training replacements, and improves employee morale.
Enhance Productivity for All Employees. By providing accessible
technology, a business can facilitate collaboration and communication among all
employees in an organization—whether they have a disability or not. This results
in greater overall organizational productivity.
Accessible technology that is adjustable and meets the needs of a variety of employee
needs increases productivity, job satisfaction, and employee morale. The range of
definitions of "accessible" varies from person to person, so when choosing technology,
it is critical to consider the diverse needs and preferences of all employees, not
just "special cases" flagged by human resources.
For some, accessible technology simply means the ability to easily change font size,
icon size, colors, sounds, and speed of the mouse cursor on their PCs. For others
with more profound impairments,
technology products need to be added to computer systems to allow access.
Reduce Costs. Accessible technology can help reduce costs of time
lost and money spent when an employee develops a temporary disability. Providing
accessible technology also allows an employee with a temporary disability to remain
productive and up-to-date, and may prevent an organization from needing to hire
a temporary replacement or letting the work pile up while a valued employee is recovering.
Read a real-world example in: "Assistive Technology Reconnects Employees to the
Workplace While Recovering from Temporary Disabilities."
Enhance Collaboration and Communication. Accessible technology
empowers employees—including employees with and without disabilities—to share documents,
collaborate on projects, and communicate among team members. When all employees
have the power to customize their computers to meet their individual needs, they
can more easily communicate with one another. For example, employees who can modify
the way information is presented to them visually, aurally, and tactilely (in the
case of Braille output) can more fluidly communicate with coworkers. With productivity
software, it's also easier to collaborate on projects. For a real-world example,
see: "General Motors Provides Needed Assistive Technology to Help Employee Who is
Blind Be More Effective in His Work."
Recruit the Most Talented Minds
An organization's public image plays a crucial role in its ability to recruit and
retain talented employees. With a strong reputation and well-thought-out human resource
practices, an organization can draw top talent to new positions and retain its most
talented employees. Job candidates naturally evaluate the entire compensation package
offered including human resource programs, work/life balance, community involvement,
and the diversity of an organization and how it accommodates the diverse needs and
styles of its workforce.
Attract New Customers
Fostering a diverse workforce—which includes people with disabilities—enhances your
ability to provide products and services that appeal to a broader range of customers.
Having people with disabilities on staff helps your organization relate to its customers
As the demand for accessible products grows, businesses that are already experienced
with and attuned to the needs of customer segments with accessibility requirements
are naturally in a stronger position. A diverse workforce gives businesses market
insights they might not otherwise gain. In the end, a diverse workforce provides
a competitive edge.
Case Studies for Success
Read real world case studies featuring
people with disabilities using accessible technology in business and education. These case studies feature best practices and
lessons learned. Also read about the
for developing and executing an accessible technology plan in your organization.