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Information technology use is essential in today's business environment. However, the such technology can create barriers for individuals with disabilities, especially for people unable to operate a standard keyboard or mouse. Assistive technology such as alternative keyboards and screen readers can help, but only if a the content is developed to be accessible and compatible with such assistive technology.

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodation. Businesses and corporations, both large and small, are affected by the ADA. While Title III of the ADA is best known for its applicability to barriers such as lack of wheelchair access, acceptance of service animals, effective communication for hard-of-hearing individuals and accommodations for the vision impaired, its focus in the digital age has turned to the accessibility of information technology. While regulations are still being determined by the Department of Justice (DOJ), it is clear that it interprets the ADA as applicable to information technology.

There are accepted best practices and guidelines for ensuring the accessibility of documents and websites. The World Wide Web Consortium Web Accessibility Initiative has developed in-depth guidance in this area and specifically offer the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 "AA" level, which is presently being used as the standard by the DOJ. In addition, some states have implemented their own laws for accessibility, for example Illinois state agencies are required to follow the Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act standards and in Minnesota there is the State of Minnesota Accessibility Standard.

Beyond the ADA requirements, there is also a strong business case for accessibility. Accessibility overlaps with other best practices such as mobile web design, device independence, multi-modal interaction, usability, design for older users, and search engine optimization (SEO). Case studies show that accessible websites have better search results, reduced maintenance costs, and increased audience reach, among other benefits. There are social, technical, financial, and legal benefits to engage in this process.


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This site may link to materials developed by federal agencies and/or their grantees. Several of the links provided will take you to external websites. The content and materials available on this website is property of the Great Lakes ADA Center. This tool was developed under NIDILRR grant #90DP0091-01-00.