Access Ready Environments
An initiative of Disability Relations Group (DRG)
When environments and technologies are accessible to the disabled, they are accessible to everyone.
The mission of the Access Ready Environments Initiative is to advance a policy across government, the private and nonprofit sectors that instills and requires that all aspects of any entity especially information technology and communications systems/platforms be created and maintained as an access ready environment for people with the widest range of disabilities possible. This includes access to citizen and employee facing documentation/programs/services/systems/tools, information technology platforms, physical structures/spaces, and public facing documentation/programs/services/systems/tools at all levels of the subject entity. The mission is to engage at all levels of an entities’ interaction with people, but will, through its various private and public-sector web domains, concentrate on primary points of vital interest. These include, but are not limited to, business, e-commerce, elections, and all aspects of government services. The mission is to bring awareness, education, opportunity, and, if necessary, enforcement through structured negotiation or legal action when no other choice is left.
The vision is for the policy to make accessibility a primary consideration in the creation and maintenance process of documentation/programs/services/systems/tools, but especially to make information technology and communications systems/platforms at all levels a constant and not an afterthought as they often are.
The Value of Access Ready Environments
Establishing protocols that require accessibility within information technology, development, planning and purchasing, departments would go a long way toward setting the stage for access ready environments. Think of the possibilities across so many fields from administration to voting.
DRG is seeking the support of Disability, government and industry leaders to putting access ready environments into practice on a voluntary basis and then as a matter of course. Think of the opportunities that could be created if every workplace were an access ready environment.
We make every effort to assist business and government in providing goods and services to people with disabilities, to make accommodation efforts as a matter of course and established policy, not just half-hearted accommodation requirements.
Just like we require that new and modernized buildings be accessible, why don’t we require from inception that business and government deploy both public and employee facing information technology that is accessible, making that environment Access Ready from the start?
- Not having accessible public facing information technology, like websites, is saying to 20% or more of the market that their participation is unwelcome and their money is no good.
- Too much emphasis has been placed on providing accommodations for people with disabilities as an excuse for not providing accessibility. Often such accommodations rely on inadequately trained and time limited front line staff resulting in poor or simply unavailable goods and service delivery to the customer with a disability.
- Without an Access Ready Environment, hiring managers often internally consider the cost of accessibility before employing a person with a disability. When they do move forward there is a delay before employment can begin because of the lack of accessibility. An access ready environment would set aside such considerations and delays.
- The Access ready environments Initiative is a new concept in the information technology world. Just think of the money and time, that would be saved along with the opportunities that will be created in the long run.
- It should be a real commitment in information technology by those entities who talk about employing people with disabilities.
- Information technology is the life blood of twenty first century goods and service delivery across comerce and government. Establishing policy protocols that require accessibility within information technology, development, planning and purchasing, would set the stage for access ready environments. Consider the possibilities across so many fields from goods and service delivery to administration and elections.
- Curb cuts proved that in the concrete world and software packages like Discover Access for Share Point is doing the same in cyber space.
What is An “Access Ready Environment”?
The term Access Ready Environments means that all aspects of any entity, especially information technology and communications systems/platforms, should be created and maintained as an environment that is readily accessible to people with the widest range of disabilities possible, whether through design, technology, and/or operational requirements. There is no longer any reason or excuse for not planning in accessibility at all levels and in all aspects of any entity.
Click Here to Read a Sample Accessibility Policy which could be modified for any organization in any industry.
The Term “Access Ready Environments” is a broad one. Becoming an Access Ready entity is a process, and we understand the complications and expense involved in choosing this path. However, we believe that encouraging Access Ready Environments in all settings will create a better world not only for individuals in the Disability Community, but for everyone.
There are many resources on the various categories of accessibility. Physical and programmatic for example. Below you will find some links to resources.
The Access Ready Environments Initiative is primarily concerned with the accessibility of information technology platforms and solutions. To begin the examination process we start by asking some relatively simple, but direct questions. The answers lead us to the major points of our process that is designed to assist business and government in establishing a Access Ready Environment through both public and employee facing information technology elements.
1. Does the entity have in place a policy that requires all internally developed, purchased or leased information technologies meet accessibility standards under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) or section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended?
2. Does the entity have in place a policy that requires all documentation published through information technology be properly formatted and/or remediated to be accessible to people with disabilities both externally or internally?
3. Does the entity have in place a policy that requires any changes or uploads to its website follow accessibility protocols to prevent the site from becomming mor and more inaccessible over time?
4. Has the entity had its website surveyed for accessibility by a qualified provider?
5. Does the entity have its own team members or have a working relationship with a website developer who are WCAG and/or 508 qualified?
6. Does the entity have a person who has been appointed to be its Americans With Disabilities accessibility officer who is appropriately trained with the athority to require and drive accessibility policy?
7. Is the entities management willing to commit to a review of its information technology infrastructure in order to ascertain what must be done to fully implement an Access Ready Environments policy.?
8. Is the management of the entity willing to enter into negotiations to establish an Access Ready Environments policy?