[Accessibility] I have a conflict today

John Goldthwaite john.goldthwaite at catea.org
Wed Jun 16 10:08:57 PDT 2004

Sorry folks, our PI got back from her Mediterranean cruise and is getting us
organized at 2.

The Information Technology Industry Council is starting an initiative on
harmonizing accessibility standards.  Here is the announcement from Ken

Global Strategy on the Development of Accessibility Standards and

ITI:  The Information Technology Industry Council, ITI, represents the
leading providers of information and communications technology (ICT)
products and services.  ITI is the voice of the high tech community,
advocating policies that foster U.S. economic growth and job creation by
advancing U.S. leadership in technology and innovation; expanding market
access for ICT products; protecting consumer privacy and choice; promoting
e-commerce; and enhancing the global competitiveness of its member
ITI member companies include Accenture, Agilent Technologies, Apple, Canon
U.S.A., Cisco, Corning, Dell, Eastman Kodak, eBay, EMC, Hewlett-Packard,
Honeywell, IBM, Intel, Lexmark, Microsoft, National Semiconductor, NCR,
Oracle, Panasonic, SAP, Sony Electronics, Sun Microsystems, Symbol
Technologies, Tektronix, Time Warner, and Unisys.

The Global Accessibility Context:  The need for accessible information
technology is acute across the globe.  According to a 2001 United Nations
report, there are approximately 600 million people with disabilities
worldwide.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people with disabilities
are the largest minority in the United States, accounting for approximately
one-fifth of the entire U.S. population.  The global number of people with
disabilities is destined to grow as the population ages.  In response to
this reality, governments around the world are currently exploring or
actually establishing unique, national, ICT accessibility policies.  Some of
these policies are similar to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in the
U.S., but many more represent entirely new, divergent, and conflicting
accessibility guidelines for public procurement.

The ICT Industry and Standards:  Standards are at the foundation of the
global ICT economy.  They create value and aggregate markets.  They
facilitate technology diffusion, promote production efficiency, product
compatibility, interoperability, and enhanced competition.  Standards help
to drive down costs for consumers.  They allow for the communication among
buyers and sellers of important commercial information and they advance the
public welfare (e.g. product safety).  These benefits from standards are
particularly relevant to the accessibility marketplace thereby justifying
ITI's advocacy for policies supporting global, harmonized, market-led,
voluntary accessibility standards that increase the availability of
accessible technology and the development of ICT markets.

The ITI Global Accessibility Objective:  ITI believes that collaboration on
the international harmonization of ICT accessibility policies and standards
will unite governments, industry, and people with disabilities and prevent
the creation of unnecessary national technology barriers to divide them.
Such barriers would only reduce the overall amount of accessible ICT
available in the commercial marketplace.  ITI is working towards the
international harmonization of procurement practices and technology
standards for accessibility in order to create a reasonably uniform global
playing field for technology companies and to ensure the availability of
increasingly high quality accessible ICT for all people.


ITI's global accessibility standardization objective is to achieve the
expedited development of consensus, voluntary, global standards for ICT
accessibility based on existing Section 508 technical specifications and
covering hardware, software, telecommunications and the web.  ITI is working
aggressively to avoid the development and adoption of redundant or
conflicting ICT accessibility standards across multiple standards
development organizations and markets.  A fundamental principle of ITI's
standardization strategy is the distinction between implementable technical
specifications and the more general user requirements that are helpful in
guiding the development of those specifications.

To achieve its objective, ITI will undertake the following actions:

§	Prioritize key areas for standardization and determine where there is work
currently underway and where gaps exist.
§	Identify appropriate standards development organizations, including
ISO/IEC JTC1 Subcommittees (existing or new) to target for development work.
§	Propose a comprehensive body of accessibility standardization to ISO/IEC
JTC1 along with a management strategy to coordinate various ISO, IEC, ITU-T,
and regional or consortia activities.
§	Provide industry technical expertise as needed to support standards
development work.
§	Support the development of WCAG 2.0 as a global Web content accessibility
standard that is testable and technologically achievable in the marketplace
today and builds on Section 508 Web requirements.
§	Expand industry participation on WAI committees to balance the
responsibilities of all stakeholders and to drive toward consensus in
support of standards that promote accessibility while enabling technological
§	Continue to support relevant standards development activity in other
venues where appropriate.
§	Coordinate with TIA and other relevant entities on telecommunications
accessibility standardization work.
§	Enable companies to provide government officials with information about
the accessible features of their EIT products, e.g. through the Voluntary
Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) system and other potential online


ITI's global accessibility regulatory objective is to promote equal
opportunities for people with disabilities by supporting existing, general,
non-discrimination legislation and regulation in markets across the globe.
To this end, ITI does not support the development of inconsistent
accessibility regulations and policies that would fragment the market for
ICT accessibility solutions to the detriment of the end-user.  ITI does not
support mandated certification or third party testing for conformance to
accessibility standards and ITI does not support accessibility labelling or
an accessibility mark on products.   Where technical regulations for
accessibility are deemed necessary, ITI supports 1-1SDOC, that is, one
globally applied standard tested once and globally accepted supplier's
declaration of conformity with the appropriate level of post-market
surveillance by governments.

To achieve its objective, ITI will undertake the following actions:

§	Encourage the EC to adopt technical guidelines consistent with Section 508
that would be applicable across Europe and supersede the fragmented legal
framework that is already emerging as various member states take different
approaches in implementing accessibility technical requirements and
§	Educate regulators in key markets (e.g. through US-EU ICT Dialogue) about
the international voluntary, consensus standardization work being
§	Educate regulators in key markets (e.g. through US-EU ICT Dialogue) about
the benefits of 1-1SDoC.
§	Encourage regulators in key markets to adopt technical guidelines
consistent with section 508.
§	Support a WCAG version 2.0 that is consistent with Section 508 Web
§	Encourage regulators to consider adopting guidelines that promote but not
mandate the use of the other WAI guidelines, including the ATAG and the

Ken J. Salaets
Information Technology Industry Council
Director, Government Relations
1250 I Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20005
Mobile 301-437-3349

John Goldthwaite
Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access, Georgia Tech
john.goldthwaite at catea.org

More information about the Accessibility mailing list