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Re: comprehensive list of keyboard accessible software?


From: Bourne, Sarah (ITD)
Date: Jul 30, 2013 3:30PM

Many times I have wished for a warehouse of information on the accessibility of ITC products, but I think there are two things that make that a harder thing to do than you might think.

The first is that accessibility is not a true/false or yes/no situation. There are always flaws of some kind, just as there are bound to be spelling or grammatical errors someplace on a website of any size. What you end up doing is assessing the impact of the flaws: does it prevent somebody from completing a task, or does it just make it a bit harder to complete, or is it only sort of annoying? Answering these questions requires judgment calls, and where there's judgment, there's bound to be disagreement.

And judgment calls and disagreement lead to the second thing: fear of legal liability ("How dare you say we're not accessible! See you in court!") or the converse, fear of illegally (for certain civil servants) promoting a particular product.

There must be a way of sharing this type of information that avoids those two things, but it would take a lot of work to be sure it's done properly. (How do we know the results of accessibility test were conducted by knowledgeable people and are reliable? How do we ensure the same tests are being done when they come from different sources? How are barrier assessments and mitigations documented?)

Having this information openly available could help in getting vendors to compete with each other in this area, which could result in improved accessibility of procured ICT. However, it could also work the other way, if there is a market where none of the products have any meaningful accessibility. They may see it like not needing to run faster than the tiger, but only having to run faster than their competitors.

Sarah E. Bourne
Director of Assistive Technology &
Mass.Gov Chief Technology Strategist
Information Technology Division
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
1 Ashburton Pl. rm 1601 Boston MA 02108