Why Accessible Digital Tools Matter


On this page: Accessible procurement is an essential aspect of a diverse workforce that includes people with disabilities. In this introduction find a snapshot of why accessibility matters with an overview of how to use this Toolkit

The ability to attract, retain, and develop talent in a diverse workforce is a corporate and financial imperative. Accessibility and inclusive design are integral aspects of all software applications and other technology that employees and applicants with disabilities need for success in the workforce.

Today’s business leaders know that accessibility matters throughout the employee lifecycle: from the recruitment, application and hiring process to on-boarding and training, to benefit portals, to tools needed to do the job and apply for advancement opportunities, and to all communications technologies.

And today’s business leaders know that while disability is a core component of a diversity commitment, diversity also exists within and among people with disabilities. Employee and applicant technology must serve the needs of all users, including people with physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities.

The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities was reported at 32.5 percent in June 2018, as compared to 77.6 percent for working-age people without disabilities. Accessible workforce technology is an essential element of improving this dismal statistic.

It is the goal of these Disability:IN resources to assist organizations committed to changing these numbers.

Who Are These Resources For Get link to section Who Are These Resources For

These resources are for technology purchasers who demand honest, detailed, and robust answers to accessibility inquiries. They are for purchasers who insist upon technology that works for all applicants and employees without unnecessary delay or unwarranted costs. And they are for purchasers who seek to avoid the legal and reputation risk inherent in purchasing technology that excludes a portion of the workforce.

These resources are also for suppliers who want to meet customer needs for a diverse workforce. They provide guidance for vendors to understand the type of detail expected from them by purchasers who are committed to diversity and inclusion.

For both suppliers and purchasers, this Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit. recognizes that in the 21st century, accessibility is not merely a feature of software and other technology. It can no longer be something tacked on for an added cost on a slower delivery schedule.

Instead, suppliers must prioritize accessibility in line with requirements such as data security, privacy, and performance. Accessibility must be demonstrable and there must be a strategy in place for maintaining and improving accessibility post-purchase.

These resources are designed to give organizations needed tools that will lead to the purchase of digital products with baked-in accessibility that is maintained throughout the product lifecycle. They are for organizations that take accessibility seriously and consider accessibility an essential quality of technology purchases.

How to Use These Resources Get link to section How to Use These Resources

This Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit offers content – including best practices, checklists, suggested contract language, sample documents, and links to other resources – designed to assist organizations that want to do everything possible to purchase technology that all applicants and employees can use.

For some organizations, all of the ideas in this Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit may be new. For others, concepts will be familiar, but details may be missing from current organizational processes. And for organizations further along the accessibility journey, this Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit will reflect best practices already in place.

Wherever you are in your journey to a fully inclusive and accessible workplace, take what is helpful in the order that makes sense for your organization. Incorporate what you can now and prepare a roadmap to incorporate other elements later. Work with your employees with disabilities and tailor the ideas presented here to fit the unique character of your organization.

In other words, make this Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit your own; shape it in the ways that best meets the needs of your organization.

A Note on Language Get link to section A Note on Language

Every organization has its own vocabulary to describe processes, systems, management structure, and more. You may find language in this Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit that does not match the customary terminology used in your workplace.

For example, some companies use the term “supplier,” while others prefer “vendor.” The words “training,” “education,” “development,” and “learning” may be used to refer to the identical process of imparting information to employees. We invite you to make this Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit your own by using the words and phrases your organization is most comfortable with.

Here is an explanation of five terms you will find throughout these resources:

  1. Accessibility: This Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit uses the word “accessibility” to mean the quality of technology and digital content that allows a wide range of users, including employees and applicants with disabilities, to fully and independently perceive, operate, find, navigate, understand and interact with all its functions and features with relatively the same ease of use as is required from people without disabilities.These resources use the terms “accessible” and “accessibility” to include ideas and principles of usability and inclusive design. Accessibility is not achieved by passing a single test; if technology and content is not usable, it is not accessible.
  2. Digital Accessibility: Accessibility is about more than websites. This Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit uses the phrase “digital accessibility” to broadly cover the accessibility of digital tools and content including websites, software applications, kiosks, and a host of other technologies. Additional examples of digital workplace tools can be found in Section 2 of these resources.
  3. People with Disabilities: Employees and applicants who need accessible technology have a wide range of disabilities, both visible and hidden. An accessible procurement program benefits people with vision, hearing, physical, cognitive and learning disabilities, and other disabilities. This Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit includes ideas about ways in which people with disabilities can assist organizations committed to purchasing accessible technology.

    Reflecting the thinking of the disability community, this Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit uses the terms “people with disabilities” and “disabled people” interchangeably. The term “disability talent” is also used to reflect the value people with disabilities bring to the 21st century workforce.
  4. Purchaser: Except for very small organizations, no one person is the “purchaser” of third-party workplace technology. This Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit uses the shorthand “purchaser” to include not only the person signing the contract, but also decision-makers, influencers, product owners, and others with a direct responsibility for bringing technology into an organization.
  5. Technology: This Accessible Technology Procurement Toolkit uses the overarching word “technology” to refer to the vast collection of digital tools, products, software applications, websites, peripherals, digital documents, and more that are essential to the modern workforce. These terms are at times used interchangeably, as are ”Electronic and Information Technology (EIT)” and “Information and Communications Technology (ICT).” These phrases often appear in accessibility standards and regulations.

We Value Your Feedback Get link to section We Value Your Feedback

This is a living document. We invite you to share your experiences with these resources. And we encourage you to share additional resources and tips your organization has found useful to guaranteeing workforce technology that is accessible for everyone.

Please send comments to: Liz@DisabilityIN.org.

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