Microsoft

Poll Results: Do you support accessibility options for your organization?

See how your TechRepublic peers answered this question: Do you support accessibility options for your organization? The results may surprise you.

On October 22, I asked the readers of the TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog two poll questions on this topic:

Do you support accessibility options for your organization?

I was slightly surprised by the results of the poll questions. I was operating under two assumptions that appear to be incorrect or at least incomplete.

I had assumed that a larger percentage of IT professionals, especially network administrators, were engaged in supportive activities for disabled and challenged employees on a daily basis.

I was also operating under the impression that the tools available for these supportive activities were inadequate and that there was a persistent need for better tools in this area.

The results of the poll questions suggest that my assumptions need to be rethought, so help me out. Is there just not that much need of accessibility support in a modern work environment, at least from an IT perspective? Are the tools provided for accessibility support, when IT professionals need them, completely adequate in most cases? I'd like to hear some more opinions about this subject, and I think many of your peers would too.

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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.

4 comments
maryc
maryc

There are plenty of good quality tools available for users who have special needs. Software-wise my preference is Jaws for Blind users, ZoomText for Visually Impaired users, and Dragon Dictate for Physical Issues requiring speech recognition. While we support a large group of "accessibility" users, by taking the time to configure and test that the computer hardware/software are working properly, we are able to minimize the amount of time required to support these users. The biggest support issue is not the accessibility users. The biggest support issue lies with the users who are technically challenged or technically incompetent. Whether due to generational challenges or simply a lack of the capability to absorb knowledge - these people (often managers) are the biggest issue we face in IT support.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Is there just not that much need of accessibility support in a modern work environment, at least from an IT perspective? Are the tools provided for accessibility support, when IT professionals need them, completely adequate in most cases? I'd like to hear some more opinions about this subject and I think many of your peers would too.

rzs
rzs

I can think of nothing else that constricts the use of software in my organization more than an app, web page, etc. that is not accessible. The biggest problem here is software integration. The agency standard is Microsoft Windows, but no software upgrade is possible without it passing accessibility use by the version of JAWS that we are using. (Yes, we're two versions behind. There is a issue with the mirror driver in Windows XP working with the newer version of JAWS.) In our agency, IR is not the one to test for accessibility. It is actually done by a separate group in house that has HTML and accessibility tool skills, but that is the extent of their expertise.

Joe G
Joe G

We have a blind user. He makes use of JAWS, a braille monitor, a braille embosser, an old HP scsi scanner with Open Book for translation and a braille note taker. When it comes to some of the support I have to have him assist me since I don't read braille. Other than that we have no problems. We also have several public PCs that have both JAWS and ZoomText installed. Several iterations of JAWS ago that was problematic as the programs conflicted. That issue has since been resolved.

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