Frequently Asked Questions - Common Questions We're Hearing from Employers

Q: As an employer, what are my responsibilities related to accessible technology?

A:

PEAT encourages employers to make the workplace technology they buy and use accessible to all of their job applicants and employees, including those who have disabilities. This means:

  • Ensuring that all employees can access the technology currently in place—from computers, to online job applications, to company-issued smartphones.
  • Creating websites that meet or exceed accepted accessibility standards (i.e., Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and/or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0).
  • When procuring new technology for your workplace, committing to purchasing only accessible technology products.
  • If you manufacture technology, developing accessible, interoperable, and universally-designed products for your customers.

PEAT's tools and resources are designed to assist employers in these efforts.

Q: Why should employers care about the accessibility of the technology in their workplace?

A:

Implementing workplace technology that can be used by all employees is a wise business practice that can impact your bottom line. Benefits include:

  • Improved recruitment and employee retention.
  • Enhanced productivity.
  • Operational cost reductions.
  • Improved corporate image.
  • Reduced legal costs.

Accessibility: Making the Business Case for Employers outlines these reasons in more detail and can assist you in framing your accessible technology pursuits.

Recommended external resources:

Q: Are there any laws related to accessible technology that apply to my organization as an employer?

A:

Possibly. Certain laws and regulations apply to certain employers.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities within the context of employment. If you plan to use technology that would effectively prevent people with disabilities from participating, then you are at risk of a possible lawsuit. For example, if the only way to find out about and apply for a job is through an inaccessible website, you may have a problem.

Similarly, employers who are federal contractors and subcontractors also have responsibilities under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act related to specific actions they must take in the areas of disability employment, training, record-keeping, and policy dissemination. Updates to Section 503 enacted in 2014 are fueling some employers' interest in accessible technology as a way to support a disability-friendly workplace—from online job applications to talent management systems that can assist in recordkeeping and self-disclosure.

Aside from federal contractors, the private sector is not mandated to buy and promote the use of accessible ICT products; however, it is considered an exemplary practice to do so—as well as an advantageous business strategy. Several organizations have developed technical standards to provide detailed accessibility guidance. To learn more, read Technical Standards for Workplace Technologies.

To learn more about these laws and regulations and whether they apply to you, read Accessible Technology and the Law.

Recommended external resources:

Q: I'm an employer who wants to create a technology-accessible workplace. How do I get started?

Q: How can I ensure that we buy accessible technology products?

A:

Building accessibility into your procurement processes can ensure that your organization buys and implements technology that can be used by all employees. To learn more about searching for accessible ICT, visit the Buy & Implement Accessible Technology section of PEAT's Action Steps to Accessible Technology in the Workplace tool.

Q: How can I find out if the current ICT in my workplace is accessible?

A:

Assessing the accessibility of your current ICT is an ongoing process that involves taking inventory of your existing technologies and making a plan to address any shortcomings, either by working with the vendors who created the solutions in question or with your own internal IT developers. To learn more about this process, visit the Assess section of PEAT's Action Steps to Accessible Technology in the Workplace tool.

Q: I'm an employer who wants to ensure the technology in my workplace is as accessible as possible. How do I get started?

A:

You've come to the right place! PEAT offers a range of tools and resources to help employers improve the accessibility of the technology used by their employees—and to build a business case for doing so. One easy way to get started is to visit Action Steps for Accessible Technology in the Workplace. This eight-step employer toolkit guides users to educational resources on a variety of inclusive technology practices.

Another signature tool is TechCheck, which helps you assess your organization's accessible technology efforts and find resources to help you develop them further. Whether you have a formal accessible technology initiative or not, TechCheck can help. It will help you understand the current state of your accessible technology policies, identify goals, and determine the steps necessary to reach them.