In our last article, we explored how technology barriers limit access for people with various disabilities. In this article, we will consider how businesses can prevent or remove barriers. Preventing and removing technology barriers makes businesses welcoming to people of all abilities.
Preventing and Removing Technology Barriers
Businesses can find many solutions to help people access technology.
For example, businesses can have:
- Websites that comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA
- Kiosks and credit-card machines with accessibility features
- Computers or tablets with voice input and output available for customers
- Large monitors
- Different types of keyboards and pointing devices, when possible
- Tactile keyboards, or speech input and output for touch screens
- Processes for providing service when technology is out-of-order
Different kinds of businesses can find ways of removing technology barriers, including:
Some of these solutions are low-cost. For instance, Apple products are all equipped with built-in accessibility features, including:
- Screen reading software
- Screen magnification
- Speech recognition
Similarly, businesses can download a free demo of the Windows screen reader JAWS. In contrast, other solutions may be more costly. For example, businesses can hire experts to make their websites accessible. Likewise, they can purchase accessible hardware, such as different types of monitors, keyboards, or pointing devices. However, federal, provincial, or local funding may help businesses create or acquire technology with fewer barriers.
In some cases, businesses may not receive funding. Alternatively, ensuring that their websites are accessible may be an on-going or complex process. However, there are still ways for staff to make their premises welcoming to all customers, workers, or visitors. Staff should assist customers or clients when they need to use inaccessible technology. For instance, students may need to use inaccessible websites to apply for scholarships or licences. Staff from the agencies should work with students to find a solution so that they have equal access to these application processes. Staff can meet with students and navigate the website on their behalf and fill in their responses.
In contrast, staff support can sometimes create new types of barriers. For example, when credit card machines are inaccessible, staff may be able to input customers’ information on their behalf. However, this set-up violates customers’ rights to keep their financial information confidential. In addition, there is danger that some staff may steal from vulnerable customers. As a result, businesses should make every effort to offer accessible technology. Our next article will explore the AODA requirement for businesses to obtain accessible self-service kiosks.