2003 Conference Proceedings

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FINDINGS OF THE DISABILITY & TECHNOLOGY BRIDGE: BEST PRACTICES

Presenter
Anthony Tusler
World Institute on Disability
510 16th St., Suite 100
Oakland CA 94612
Phone: 510 251-4334
Email: Anthony@wid.org

The Disability and Technology Bridge: Best Practices project is an investigation of combined efforts of disabled people and electronic and information technology (E & IT) companies to improve the access to goods and services. Successful strategies were found that can be used by accessibility champions within E & IT companies and disability advocates to bring about increased accessibility.

This project documents how disabled consumers have created partnerships with people in the information technology and telecommunications industry. Together they have influenced the creation of accessible software, hardware, and services. A number of the best practices are simple and straightforward, e.g., insure that accessibility activities are prominently displayed on the company intranet. Other best practices are more global. For instance, companies can create and utilize a disabled employees group within the company -- a significant resource on accessibility needs and understanding the disability market.

The report recommends a best practices roadmap. It outlines how partnerships of the industry and disabled consumers create and deliver products and services that incorporate effective usability and accessibility standards. Recommendations cover the breadth of the development cycle from product inception to marketing and support. The final product is available in both print and on the web. It is a tool to assist those inside and outside the technology industry to facilitate access to technology by disabled people.

WID has created a new standard for disability inclusion by highlighting the positive strategies and changes taking place in the technology industry. The efforts of disabled people, their organizations, and those inside the technology industry have changed the cultural norms about what constitutes successful universal design and disability access. This project documents and hastens those changes. This effort is a project of the World Institute on Disability funded by the California Consumer Protection Foundation.

Methodology

A group of leaders in the accessibility field identified an initial group of accessibility champions from major E & IT companies. This initial group was contacted to establish their willingness to be interviewed and to recommend additional colleagues who were doing an outstanding job of providing access to their goods and services for disabled people. Interviews were conducted from this larger pool. Due to scheduling and availability problems approximately half of them were finally interviewed at length.

The interviews were qualitative and open-ended. The findings were then analyzed to discover categories and natural groupings. The raw data was sorted and condensed. A select group of accessibility experts and advocates who work outside the E & IT industry then validated the identified best practices. The best practices are integrated into a community organizing matrix. The final report will raise the accessibility norms within companies and assist disability advocates to advocate more successfully.


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