Strategic IT Accessibility: Enabling the Organization

 

How should I deal with IT accessibility in my organization?

Is your business, corporation, government agency, or other organization's IT accessible to people with disabilities? Is it aware of accessibility regulations and standards that may apply to its products, services, and internal IT? Does it understand the risks of inaccessible IT and the benefits of accessible IT? Is there an IT accessibility program in place to deal with the complexities of IT accessibility in its offerings and internal IT environment?

IT accessibility or lack thereof can have a profound effect on an organization. Only when IT accessibility is considered organization-wide can one gain perspective on the magnitude of its potential advantages and impacts.

In creating and implementing plans to ensure that an organization's IT products, services, and internal IT are accessible, there are many dimensions, creating significant challenges for any organization... large, small, public or private.

For an organization to be successful in dealing with IT accessibility in its entirety, a comprehensive, holistic approach is needed. It requires re-engineering of key business processes and policies, and the integration of IT accessibility at the appropriate points within organizations so that it becomes woven into the fabric of its business and culture.

Strategic IT Accessibility: Enabling the Organization is the first book on IT accessibility that approaches the subject from the business side. It deals with the enablement of an organization rather than the technical enablement at a coding level. Unlike the typical piecemeal approach used by many organizations today, this book provides those in both the private and public sector with a strategic view of IT accessibility through an understanding of the diversity of moving parts and what is needed to enable and maintain them from program initialization and over the long term.

The book documents and leverages intellectual capital I've acquired in IT accessibility business transformation over the past decade and provides straightforward guidance to organizations ready to embark on such a journey, but who have little knowledge of how to approach it.


Front cover of book

The principles and concepts conveyed in this book are universally applicable in all geographies and are a must-read for:

  • Corporate executives or agency heads
  • CIOs and other executive-level IT positions
  • Development executives
  • Strategic planners
  • Project managers
  • Human resources executives and top-level managers
  • Corporate and governmental legal professionals
  • Communications professionals at all levels
  • Public and private-sector consultants/business-services businesses
  • Education management for K-12 and universities

What the industry experts are saying

"Our industry has needed a book like Strategic IT Accessibility for a long time.  Many of the clients we have worked with over the years focused on project-by-project IT accessibility.  When we started working with clients to include IT accessibility at the strategic and process level we noticed the ROI soared.  IT accessibility needs to be implemented at a strategic level and incorporated into the Development Life Cycle.  If that doesn't happen efforts will be made to make a system or application accessible and the next person to revise will just kick it out of compliance.  Many thanks to Jeff Kline for writing a book that is a must-read for any organization that wants to assure everyone has access to their services and products."  Debra Ruh, TecAccess founder and CEO and SSB BART group chief marketing officer

"I spend most of my time with technical accessibility consulting, manual reviews of web pages or products for large corporate, educational and government clients. Relating to what I do there are plenty of books and web resources that I can recommend to my clients. But for years I have been stymied by the total lack of resources that would help the client to understand, address and negotiate accessibility within their corporate culture.  Now Jeff Kline has provided just such a resource. I was amazed how spot on this book is in addressing accessibility in the corporate culture with a plan that can really make a difference. Going forward I will be sure every new client that I work with has Jeff's book."  Dr. Jim Thatcher, jimthatcher.com

"Jeff Kline has written the book that the technology accessibility field has needed for years, one that clearly delineates high level issues in ensuring technology access for all. Those of us who advise others on accessibility can use this excellent primer to help clients understand what is needed to instill the culture of inclusive technology in public- or private-sector organizations." Sharron Rush, executive director of Knowbility.org

"Strategic IT Accessibility by Jeff Kline provides us a compelling first look at how organizations should address the business and organizational issues of accessibility in a systemic fashion, providing both the information and insight needed by enterprises to move from laggards to leaders in the field." Tim Springer, managing Director, SSB BART Group.

Why is IT Accessibility important?

Until recently, the accessibility of information technology (IT) for people with disabilities was viewed as an optional, feel-good or philanthropic initiative in corporate America and to a lesser extent in the rest of the world.

This view shifted dramatically in 1998, when a new federal procurement law, Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act of 1973, was passed requiring all IT purchased by US government agencies to be compliant with specific design criteria, making it accessible to people with disabilities.

Today, there are IT accessibility policies, regulations, and standards in nearly every country in the world. Additionally there has been highly visible litigation, initiated by both individuals and NGO's representing people with disabilities, claiming discrimination and other violations of disability laws, such as ADA in the U.S., DDA in the U.K., and others.

Also, global population demographics are shifting. For example, the maturing population, the temporarily disabled, those with degenerative diseases that affect human performance, and those with second-language challenges may experience accessibility barriers to IT.

The combination of these accessibility regulations, business/market impacts, litigation risks, and other concerns has driven many companies, as well as government agencies, to work toward making their lT accessible, with varying degrees of quality and success.

What does IT accessibility affect?

IT accessibility is not a simple topic for organizations in public or private sector given the scale of IT resources most organizations now possess. Such resources include:

  • products and service offerings
  • e-commerce and informational websites
  • multimedia and other communications
  • other IT-related elements
In addition to the externally facing aspects of IT accessibility, there is the organization's workforce and its internal IT environment to be considered. Examples include:
  • internet and intranet applications
  • desktop and back-office systems and applications
  • email
  • organizational communications

Author bio

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Jeff received his bachelor of science degree in industrial design from Ohio State University. He began his career at Texas Instruments in Houston, Texas, designing data terminals and geophysical equipment. After several years there, he joined IBM's industrial design team in Austin, Texas, where he designed and led design projects for a vast array of IBM's products, ranging from printers and system-level computers. 

After several years "on the board" there, he took on his first management assignment as the IBM Design Center manager. There he built a diverse team of industrial design, graphic design, and usability professionals. His management career then led him into the realm of software, as development manager for user interface design and development in IBM's AIX Operating System. It was there he gained early, firsthand knowledge of IT accessibility at the project level.

He then moved into a corporate management position as accessibility compliance and consulting manager, part of IBM's Human Ability and Accessibility Center, where he was responsible for all aspects of accessibility integration and transformation across IBM worldwide.

Upon leaving IBM after twenty-six years, Jeff shifted to the public sector as the electronics and information resources accessibility coordinator for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. In this position, he leveraged his broad industry experience to improve IT accessibility within the agency and the broader Texas Health and Human Services agency.

Jeff Kline

He currently serves as the Statewide Electronics and Information Resources Accessibility coordinator at the Texas Department of Information Resources in Austin, Texas.

Jeff holds over twenty patents, works part-time as a professional club/lounge DJ, and enjoys renovating Porsche cars, traveling, sailing, and scuba diving.

Contact info

Jeff Kline
jeffrey.l.kline@gmail.com
512-426-9779

Buy this book

Now available worldwide in hard copy or ebook formats from your favorite on-line bookseller, or use this link to the book versions on Amazon.com.