Technology's Impact on Diversity

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In today’s increasingly “connected” environment, web and non web based technologies are creating more effective communication vehicles for the entire world – unless you have a disability. Technology is accessible to people with disabilities and age related limitations only if it can be used just as effectively by people with disabilities as it can by those without. Many people are surprised to learn just how much of the world’s population is affected by a disability, and how valuable accessible design is to government, private industry, and educational institutions wishing to create an inclusive environment. To understand the impact one has to look no further than the World Health Organization which indicates that people with disabilities are the world’s fastest growing minority group. With the world’s population aging and the likelihood of developing a disability or other mobility limitations increasing with age, the growth in the number of people with disabilities can be expected to rise dramatically. An inclusive and universal design approach to technology is critical to organizations wishing to serve the disabled population, and to tap into the many possibilities now made available through advancements in assistive technology. The purpose of this paper is to review current and pending Worldwide Electronic and Information Technology (E&IT) Accessibility trends, regulation, standards and guidelines and understand their impact on people with disabilities. The objective is to identify and analyze significant issues, risks and opportunities and to develop recommendations to assist E&IT decision makers in planning and positioning so that to take advantage of opportunities. This paper will provide a baseline for monitoring trends in each of these areas and a repository of legislation, regulation, standards, guidelines and best practices to guide E&IT researchers in making decisions with regard to the accessibility of E&IT products, programs, services and information.


Keywords: People with Disabilities, Assistive Technology, Accessible Technology, Technology and Diversity
Stream: Disability, Health
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Debra Ruh

Founder and President, President, TecAccess
Richmond, Virginia, USA

Debra has more than 25 years of professional experience implementing and creating technology, compliance, policy, quality assurance, training and e-Learning solutions for government agencies and organizations all over the world. Recently, Debra was appointed to the Olmstead Board by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, and she serves proudly as a board member of the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and Virginia BLN. In addition, she is the 2007 winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Advocacy Award, Northrop Grumman’s 2007 Community Support Award, and the prestigious Wells Fargo/NAWBO “Trailblazer” Award. Debra’s company, TecAccess, was awarded the prestigious US Depart of Labor Presidential Freedom Initiative Award, as well as the 2005 Lighthouse International Employer of the Year for hiring people with Vision Impairments.

Ref: D08P0281