Inclusive Workforce

Free Accessibility Tools and Technology Pay It Forward

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May 17 marks the seventh anniversary of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD was introduced to spark a conversation around digital accessibility to get people thinking and learning about accessibility. While the conversation is important, we must remember this is not a theoretical exercise. These are real challenges affecting people daily, but tackling these challenges doesn’t have to be a daunting exercise. In recognition of GAAD, let’s take a look at some innovative IBM tools and technologies such as the Mobile Accommodation Solution (MAS), the Verified Accessibility Samples (Va11ys) on GitHub and the Dynamic Accessibility Plug-in (DAP), all of which can be utilized by the community at large for free.

 

Free Accommodation App for Mobile Mobile Accommodation Solution Splash screen on an IPAD

At IBM, we cherish and value our broad and diverse community. Our CEO has pointed to a diverse work force as a business priority and one of the key drivers of our continued success. You can not live up to those expectations, however, if some of your employees must continually overcome roadblocks that prevent them from getting their work done. To help break down those potential roadblocks for people with disabilities in enterprises, we partnered with the Center for Disability Inclusion at the West Virginia University and the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) to create MAS. This solution enables employees to create, store and export the requests for accommodations they need to get their job done. You can download and test this application yourself for free on the iOS and Google Play stores .

Va11yS is your open source gateway to accessibility samples

Roadblocks can appear in front of any employee and not just those with disabilities. We often hear from our own developers that even with all of the available guidance, it can be difficult to know how to implement accessibility in their code. We needed an easy way for designers and developers to get started quickly on their projects without getting bogged down by rules, standards and checklists. To that end, last year we created Va11ys, hosted on Github and freely available to the world. Anyone can grab the code, download, reuse it and hopefully build upon it. The team has continued to provide new and expanded samples covering a range of languages, frameworks and technologies. Learn more about Va11yS on the IBM Age and Ability Blog.

IBM testing tools for free on the IBM Cloud

Lastly, to try to remove the roadblocks for the disabled community at large, for the month after GAAD, we will remove usage limitations on IBM’s Dynamic Accessibility Plug-in (DAP) and other tools on the IBM Cloud Marketplace. This is the same tool that IBM developers use to validate that their code is accessible according to industry standards before the code surfaces to the world. This plug-in provides issue details and examples that help developers understand the potential approaches for addressing accessibility issues. Our team in IBM Research is looking to take those suggestions a step further and provide the developer with automatically suggested fixes for some issues. We do this with artificial intelligence (AI) and heuristics in our AI-Enabled Accessibility Plug-in. The beta version of this tool is also available for free on the IBM Cloud. Learn more here.

 

GAAD is a fantastic reminder to ensure that we embrace an inclusive environment for all every day – not just today.

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