Be Tech Savvy: Accessible Information & Communication Technology
Accessible information and communication technology (ICT) ensures your applicants and employees are fully included across all phases of employment.
The development, procurement, lease, maintenance and use of information and communication technology (ICT) are central to the operation of businesses today. The Internet has dramatically changed the way that businesses conduct work and communicate with the public, including how individuals apply for jobs.
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To fully participate in the workforce, applicants and employees with certain types of disabilities (such as those with limited vision and hearing) must have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access and use by applicants and employees without these types of disabilities. For example, if an online application system is not accessible, some applicants with disabilities can never “get through the front door.”
Furthermore, once an individual with a disability is on board, if he or she is not provided with accessible ICT, this omission may limit his or her ability to develop the skills needed to be productive and advance in employment. Accessible ICT is about virtual access, and today, it is as essential to facilitating disability inclusion as physical accessibility features, such as ramps and elevators.
Promising business practices regarding accessible ICT include the development of comprehensive strategic action plans that include the following:
Leadership and Team Approach
- Securing leadership at the highest levels of the company to facilitate “buy-in” and establish and sustain corporate commitment to accessible ICT.
- Establishing a network of individuals responsible for implementation (e.g., an accessibility team comprising managers across divisions, including human resources, information and communication technology, procurement, education and training, financial and marketing, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) compliance).
- Making the business case for ensuring that technology used by the business is accessible to the largest possible number of applicants, employees and customers.
Needs Assessments, Feedback and Priorities
- Considering all the ICT used or offered and making a list of those platforms, devices and applications.
- Evaluating accessibility by testing ICT applications with automated accessibility testing tools and by considering the user experience of applicants, employees and customers.
- The accessibility evaluation includes an automated accessibility testing tool to evaluate conformance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 A and AA;
- Tests are conducted manually by users with different disabilities to identify any accessibility barriers not otherwise apparent through automated testing; and
- User testing includes individuals who are blind or have low vision, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and individuals who have physical disabilities affecting manual dexterity.
- Providing for feedback from website and mobile applications’ visitors on how website accessibility can be improved. Examples of feedback methods include an email address and a toll-free phone number to contact representatives knowledgeable about the website/ICT accessibility policy.
- Establishing a process and adopting criteria that can be used for setting priorities.
Formal Policies, Practices and Procedures
- Adopting and implementing a website/ICT accessibility policy to include:
- ICT policies, technical accessibility standards, evaluation and testing, feedback, training and guidance, technical assistance and a responsible individual/office;
- Contact information for employee responsible for ensuring that the ICT purchased, maintained or used by the company is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities and instructions on how to file a complaint;
- Posting on its public website;
- Distribution to all employees in accessible formats; and
- Distribution to all contractors who design, develop, maintain or otherwise have responsibility for its websites.
- Adopting specific technical ICT accessibility standards and functional performance criteria (e.g., WCAG 2.0 A and AA) regarding software applications and operating systems, web-based intranet and internet applications, telecommunication products, video and multimedia products, self-contained closed products (e.g., copiers and printers) and computers.
- Adopting accessible online application systems that include website integration, job posting and distribution tools, application and resume submission, communication between applicants and employer, resume extraction and management, candidate search and selection processes and communication regarding a job offer or rejection.
- Providing outsourcing guidelines to suppliers and business partners, including copies of the ICT accessibility guidelines, and ensuring that contracts stipulate suppliers will, where relevant, apply ICT accessibility standards.
- Establishing clear procurement policies, including a solicitation policy that states ICT should be accessible, indicates which accessibility standards apply and provides for inspection and acceptance of deliverables based on those standards.
- Delineating the respective roles and responsibilities of key personnel, including the chief acquisition officer, chief information officer and chief accessibility officer.
- Conducting training for in-house staff, including program managers, contracting and procurement officers, software developers, web developers, and video and multimedia developers, including IT help desk staff to include:
- WCAG 2.0 A and AA accessibility requirements, for all employees and contractors who design, develop, procure, maintain, or have other responsibilities related to ICT;
- Identifying “best practices” describing steps and resources for implementing the website/ICT accessibility policy; and
- Reaching sufficient personnel to handle feedback provided by individuals with disabilities.
- Deploying accessible ICT throughout the company by, for example, establishing a mechanism for centralized expertise and/or funding.
Evaluation and Accountability
- Appointing a Chief Accessibility Officer who reports directly to a high-ranking official and is:
- Knowledgeable about the accessibility policy and legal requirements;
- Responsible for coordinating implementation of the website/ICT accessibility policy;
- The contact person for content providers regarding accessibility issues relating to its websites, mobile applications, platforms, and accessibility best practices guidance; and
- Responsible for ensuring that the accessibility best practices guidance includes guidance on the accessibility requirements.
- Appointing a cross-functional committee charged with monitoring and maintaining conformance of the websites and other ICT. Functions of the committee include assisting and reporting to the Chief Accessibility Officer.
- Retaining an independent Website Accessibility Consultant who is knowledgeable about accessible website development. This independent consultant’s duties include:
- Advising the covered entity on how to conform its website and mobile applications to WCAG 2.0 A and AA;
- Verifying that its website and its mobile applications conform to WCAG 2.0 A and AA through a written accessibility evaluation, including recommendations to improve the accessibility of the website and mobile applications; and
- Establishing the criteria for selecting testers with disabilities and reviewing the results of the tests.
- Notifying managers and employees about the company’s ICT accessibility policy.
- Involving individuals with disabilities and experts in the development, implementation and evaluation of policy.
- Establishing measurable objectives and benchmarks, including checklists, scorecards and grid-based tracking documents.
- Designing and implementing data collection and continuous improvement strategies, including tracking and reporting systems and regularly scheduled reporting.