Armedia is breaking down the IT barriers so people with all abilities can realize their full potential. I became interested in accessible IT back in 1998 when Section 508 was first coming on the scene. Like most of you, I had never even considered how disabled people leveraged technology, back then the digital divide was about income levels. As a matter of fact when I think back just twenty years ago I did not know anyone with a disability, now I do not have to look outside my family. Most people I speak with on the subject share the same experience but never really considered how the disabled population grew so fast. I can only say it is like watching your children grow up, you really don’t notice when it is happening you just wake up one day have a conversation with your kid and bang it hits you in the face.
The population of disabled Americans has done just that. Our aging population and being at war coupled with advances in healthcare have all contributed to Americans with Disabilities becoming the fastest growing minority in the United States.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
From the latest census report About 1 IN 5 AMERICANS HAVE some kind of disability and, with the population aging and the likelihood of having a disability increasing with age, the growth in the number of people with disabilities can be expected to accelerate in the coming decades.
Disability is no respecter of age, sex or race. Even among children ages 6 to 14, for instance, about 5% had some type of disability. Nevertheless, the likelihood of having a disability increases with age— almost 40% of seniors 65 years old and older have a disability
So some 20% of our population has reported a disability, that’s well over 50 million people and of those people 36% and 29% ages 15 to 64 with a severe disability who use a computer and the Internet at home, respectively.
From there you could add people who have a disability but do not care to report like people color blindness. Roughly 8% of men and 0.5% of women are affected. Therefore chances that your neighbor or one of your classmates is colorblind are very high.
So something as simple as a web form instructing you to push the green button for yes and the red button for no is what I consider an IT Barrier to equal access. Perhaps if you were colorblind and the form was on your banking site and it was concerning a fee approval you agree.
For more extensive visual disability like blindness I ask that you turn your monitor off and try to navigate your computer and complete a simple task. In coming articles I intend to provide you examples of simple errors made across multiple file types so you can become more aware of your responsibility to stop building barriers to Information.
Next week I will discuss some of the current Laws, who they apply to, and what you can do to comply.