Adopting Accessible Technology for Business Prepares Your Organization to Employ Qualified Members of the Disability Community.
When the ADA was enacted in 1990, the Internet as we know it today—the ubiquitous infrastructure for information and commerce—did not exist. Neither did the information technology driven workplace. Today the Internet, most notably the sites of the Web, plays a critical role in the daily professional, and business life of Americans. This also encompasses more and more the workplace and how business does business.
Increasingly, private entities are providing goods and services to the public through websites that operate as places of public accommodation under title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). To support these activities the internal or employee facing operations of business are driven by information technology products and services. Many websites and these information technology business or office practise systems of public accommodations however, render use by individuals with disabilities difficult or impossible due to barriers posed by websites and software designed without accessible features.
Being unable to access websites and software puts individuals with disabilities at a great disadvantage in today´s society, which is driven by a dynamic electronic market and workplace which provides unprecedented access to information.
On the economic front, electronic commerce, or “e-commerce,” often offers consumers a wider selection and lower prices than traditional, “brick-and-mortar” storefronts, with the added convenience of not having to leave one´s home to obtain goods and services. For individuals with disabilities who experience barriers to their ability to travel or to leave their homes, the Internet may be their only way to access certain goods and services. For business to ignore people with disabilities as a market for goods and services is a tremendous mistake. This is a population that now includes twenty five percent of the general population and that number is only going to keep growing. The disability community now represents some three hundred billion dollars plus a year in disposable income.
People with disabilities represent a vast untapped talent pool ready to join the workforce. With the rehabilitation funding and tax advantages available to employers it is again another great mistake not to seek out qualified individuals with disabilities.
All that is needed is for a business to adopt an Access Ready Environments policy to take advantage of this ready customer and employee market place.
The ADA´s promise to provide an equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities to participate in and benefit from all aspects of American civic and economic life will be achieved in today´s technologically advanced society only if it is clear to businesses, and other public accommodations that their websites and internal facing information technology systems must be accessible.