We are happy to report that a 2001 accessibility lawsuit brought against SAP and the state of Arkansas by the National Federation of the Blind has now been settled in favor of the state’s blind employees, who will be granted full accessibility to the state’s ERP system by August of 2009. Read the blog post entitled Arkansas state computer system will be accessible to the blind along with the Computer World article covering the story in the mainstream information technology media.
I posted the following public comment to the Computer World article:
Equal accessibility is a reasonable accommodation under several laws in the United States and other parts of the world. As blind people, we spend thousands of dollars on assistive technology to make computers accessible to us. Our aim isn’t to put anyone out of business or cause anyone an undue burden. We just need and want to participate in the workplace just like everyone else. We must be granted equal access to hardware and software in order to achieve this goal. Accessibility is a meet-you-halfway proposition. Our assistive technology industry works tirelessly to create solutions that make our digital lives accessible. It is now time for the mainstream technology industry to step up to the plate more seriously to meet the other half of this proposition, by ensuring that technology works with screen readers and reasonably accommodates our needs for accessibility.
Approximately three weeks ago, I was laid off my job because SonicWALL refused to make its implementation of the Siebel CRM software accessible. It would have taken only about an hour or so worth of a developer’s time, but SonicWALL made the decision not to accommodate me. The resulting discrimination has turned me from a successfully employed taxpayer to a recipient of Social Security Disability benefits and Unemployment Insurance! I hope other developers of mainstream software and web services will learn a valuable lesson from the settlement of this lawsuit. Make the right choice! Open your eyes and work together with us to ensure a brighter, more accessible future for all your customers and end users, including those of us who happen to be blind or visually impaired!
We ask all of you to take a look at the press release, read the Computer World article and post your own comments in support of equal access to workplace technology for the blind and visually impaired!