By Fredericka Argent and Hannah Edmonds-Camara

This is the final instalment in our series looking at accessibility in the workplace. Part 1 looked at the importance of deploying accessible IT in order to benefit employees and businesses. Part 2 examined national equality laws requiring businesses to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees in the workplace. In part 3, we set out how industry standards are playing an increasingly important role in helping organizations demonstrate compliance with accessibility requirements.

In this final instalment, we look at practical steps businesses can take to improve their accessibility credentials.

Practical steps

In light of the increasing importance of ensuring workplace accessibility and diversity, both as good business practice and in order to meet legal obligations, it is advisable that enterprises start pushing accessibility higher up the agenda. Companies can kickstart this process by reviewing their policies on workplace inclusion, procurement of IT and accessibility in the recruitment process.


Continue Reading Accessibility In The Workplace: What Businesses Need To Know: Part 4

By Fredericka Argent and Hannah Edmonds-Camara

Part 1 of our accessibility series explored the importance of businesses deploying accessible IT to recruit and retain employees with a view to reducing job polarization and inequality. Part 2 described how national equality laws are imposing affirmative obligations on businesses to make “reasonable accommodations” in the workplace for employees with disabilities — which may include ensuring that IT devices and services are enabled with accessibility functions.

This third instalment in our series looks deeper into the compliance landscape, at global rules and standards in the U.S., EU and beyond. Although many of these standards currently apply to public sector entities, rather than private entities, we expect this to change as technology transforms the nature of the workplace — not only within back offices and factories, but also on the front-line for customer-facing operations, in sectors such as the hospitality industry and retail.


Continue Reading Accessibility In The Workplace: What Businesses Need To Know: Part 3

By Fredericka Argent and Hannah Edmonds-Camara

As we noted in Part 1 of our series, there are strong business incentives to invest in accessible IT in order to recruit and retain employees with disabilities. However, aside from the business imperatives for ensuring workplace accessibility, businesses should also consider the compliance landscape — especially national equality laws. These too argue in favor of deploying accessible IT.

The compliance landscape

In many jurisdictions, equality laws place affirmative obligations on private companies, as employers, to protect their employees from discrimination on the grounds of a disability. Equality laws (and their equivalent, anti-discrimination laws) expect employers to make “reasonable accommodations” or “reasonable adjustments” in the workplace for employees with disabilities.


Continue Reading Accessibility In The Workplace: What Businesses Need To Know: Part 2

By Fredericka Argent and Hannah Edmonds-Camara

In our increasingly hyper-connected, technology-reliant society, it is important to ensure that the information technology (“IT”) that we use is accessible for all individuals. “Accessible IT” refers to technology that individuals with disabilities can navigate, perceive, understand and interact with and that enables them to consume and create content independently. It is incumbent on businesses, in particular, to provide their employees and customers with accessible IT so that nobody is left behind. This is not simply a matter of good business ethics; it is also reflected in the legal and compliance landscape. For example, in the U.S., regulators have recently taken strides to increase the accessibility of IT for persons with disabilities and to harmonize IT accessibility standards with those in other countries through the adoption of new rules pertaining to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 508”). Section 508 requires all IT developed, procured, or used by federal agencies to be accessible to federal employees and to the public, except where unduly burdensome.

Compliance with the new Section 508 standards was required as of January 18, 2018. In order to mark the coming into effect of the new version of Section 508, this blog is running a short series highlighting the importance of accessibility, especially in the workplace. We will look at the business imperative for providing accessible IT to employees and customers, the legal and compliance landscape, the role of standards in the U.S., EU and Australia, and offer some practical guidelines for meeting accessibility goals.


Continue Reading Accessibility In The Workplace: What Businesses Need To Know

In a Public Notice released this week, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau provided details regarding the procedures by which video programming distributors (including broadcasters and MVPDs) must report video programmers who refuse to provide widely available closed captioning quality certifications.

The procedures described in the Public Notice are an outgrowth of the closed

The FCC announced in a recent Public Notice that it will extend the deadline for compliance with its new television closed captioning quality rules until March 16, 2015.

Previously scheduled to go into effect on January 15, 2015, the quality rules establish standards for television closed captioning concerning (1) accuracy, (2) synchronicity, (3) completeness, and

In a recent Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), the FCC announced that it is seeking comment on proposals that would require video programmers to file contact information and closed captioning certifications with the FCC.  Specific topics on which the FCC is seeking comment include the following:

  • Whether video programmers should be required to file

Safeway agreed in settlement of a lawsuit brought by visually-impaired customers in California and Washington State to ensure that its website, which allows people to order groceries online and have them delivered to their homes, is accessible to persons with disabilities.  Safeway has already made significant enhancements to its online shopping website to meet the agreed-to standard and will continue to do so over the next year pursuant to the settlement.
Continue Reading Safeway Settles ADA Accessibility Lawsuit, Makes Grocery Website Accessible to Visually Impaired

The Media Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking comments by September 4 on issues related to video description, which is the transmission of a secondary audio track describing the visible action in video programming for the benefit of individuals who are blind or visually impaired.  Under FCC rules, local TV station affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC located in the top 25 TV markets and the top five non-broadcast networks must provide 50 hours per quarter of video-described prime time or children’s programming.  Some cable companies and broadcasters also must “pass through” the video description that they receive from others in certain circumstances.

The Public Notice does not propose any rule changes to the existing FCC rules but seeks comment on a number of issues:


Continue Reading FCC Seeks Comment on Video Description

Under the Internet closed captioning requirements established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), after certain triggering deadlines, video programming shown on television with captions in the United States and distributed in full-length form over Internet Protocol (IP) must be provided with captions online.  Beginning on March 30, 2013, the IP closed captioning requirements will apply