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Poll: Do you support accessibility options for your organization?

The TechRepublic Windows Blog member poll question: Do you support accessibility options for your organization?

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. The ADA also establishes requirements for telecommunications relay services.

Similar laws are in place in countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Canada. I feel certain there are many other countries with accessibility laws.

The job of providing many of those accommodations, especially in what is often a technology-centric work environment, rests with the information technology professional. The major operating systems all have specialized applications and tools specifically designed to accommodate users with disabilities and impairments.

But I am curious how well these applications work for users and the IT pros that support them. Are the accessibility options built in to the operating systems adequate? What applications or tools are lacking? Do you find yourself using third-party tools, and if so, which ones do you use? Is one operating system better suited than the others for accessibility applications?

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

9 comments
Jabl235
Jabl235

We use MS Windows. The built-in accessibility utilities are mostly inadequate for business-level use. We have workers who really know the business and our cutomer base. Providing good accessibility tools and supporting them is good business. We allow the built-ins of course and both test and support third party tools in our environment. The weakest links are in accessible web development, accessible PDF conversions, and poor accessibility practices in document (content) authoring.

tkaeser
tkaeser

I think the poll should be geared toward the people with disabilities working in the IT world. Developers without disabilities often do not understand or know the guidelines and laws. As a blind individual are development and MS operating system is not adequate by any means. I think the poll simply shows how uneducated the developers are that develop for those with disabilities or the laws and guidelines regarding disabilities. Also 508 guidelines require making things accessible to everyone regardless of the mployment of individuals with disabilities. It requires accessibility beyond ADA.

keithc
keithc

I am the IT manager at a Florida disability rights agency, so we are well versed on accessibility software & solutions, and use them all the time at the office. New thing we just recently discovered: If you are using a VoIP phone system, and you have a user that is either visually impaired (because softkeys are a real trouble spot for them) or has mobility issues and cannot work the phone, try Accessaphone software (www.accessaphone.com). We just discovered it and it is wonderful stuff, and relatively inexpensive to outfit your entire office. Also,

JPatrickF
JPatrickF

Working IT for a school district, we definately have to have the accessibility options available on our computers. While we enable the use of the default windows accessibiliy features, we also use specialized third-party tools that read text aloud, screen/text zooming tools, and have to support alternate input devices (IntelliKeys) and entire specialized computer systems (DynaVox).

Tommy S.
Tommy S.

You are only forced to provide accommodations if you hire someone with a disability.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What accessibility options, if any, are you lacking? What services are missing from your tool kit? Is one operating system better suited than the others for accessibility applications?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

When the poll says "support" I mean maintain accessibility applications and systems, not "approve." Looking at it again, I know the IT admins the poll was directed at understand that, but someone on the outside may not.

jasonemmg
jasonemmg

BUT... You can not not hire someone due to him or her having a disability or they can sue for discrimination.

thomas_w_bowman
thomas_w_bowman

My company uses revolving doors for 'normal' access - this is a problem if one uses a cane, and impossible for walkers/wheelchairs - but needs special authorization and justification to be able to use the 'Handicapped' doors. Fire drills are unforgiving, as they require using stairs - I'm moderately handicapped (my right foot is badly deformed) and stairs are not only very slow - but it hurts a lot to use them... Where's a slide when we need one ?