by P. G. Ramachandran, program director, Advanced Technology, IBM Accessibility
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 standards.
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