by P. G. Ramachandran, program director, Advanced Technology, IBM
It's been 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. Organizations
should be creating a holistic strategy for embedding accessibility across the
entire enterprise - from processes, to product development, to education and
training. But it's often still decentralized,
and managed disparately across a business, often resulting in solutions
that, instead, create barriers to information and don’t meet mandated levels of compliance.
To help organizations
have better visibility and management over accessibility initiatives, IBM launched
the IBM AbilityLab Compliance System. The solution helps establish and
document accessibility standards compliance for all information and
communication technologies (ICT), such as employee systems, customer-facing
mobile and web applications, hardware, kiosks, and telecommunications.
Organizations can now
better manage accessibility with a self-service reporting system that records
and tracks ICT compliance over time as standards, techniques and tools change. The
system allows executives to get reports that can track the accessibility of
products and services across the organization. With business dynamics changing
rapidly enterprises can get a good view of long term trends on how accessibility
is impacting their overall business.
This system includes
leading industry accessibility checklists, an extensive library of education
and training modules, and a web assessment testing tool that examines and
provides recommendations on improving the usability of web applications by
ensuring compliance with accessibility standards, such as alternative text,
proper tabbing and keyboard navigation, and color contrast.
Finally, the new
solution includes a centralized process and business workflow that tracks
accessibility, assigns responsibility and enables a broad group of internal
stakeholders – beyond those who may manage ICT accessibility quality assurance (QA)
tools – to have access to detailed reporting and auditing capabilities. This
helps organizations prioritize resources, be more agile with product development,
and accurately respond to requirements from customers and employees.
As part of this
rollout, IBM is collaborating with Freedom Scientific to offer organizations a complete portfolio of enterprise accessibility training and eLearning to ensure that all employees –
designers, developers, testers, quality assurance, and program managers – are following best
practices in accessibility and are educated on current regulations and industry