December 14, 2023
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 4 Americans have a disability. Of those affected by disability, nearly 5 percent are blind or have severe visual impairment, and almost 6 percent are deaf or have severe hearing impairment. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) focuses on improving accessibility for these individuals. Integrating technology accessibility into IT is not only a legal requirement; it ensures equal access for everyone, a crucial step towards fairness and inclusivity.
Today we’ll be discussing the importance of accessibility, more specifically, digital accessibility, and why it’s important to college and university educators, students, administrators, and Transact Campus. We’ll also define accessibility and talk to our Head of Accessibility, Alex Temples, who will explain what Transact is currently doing to meet federal and state accessibility requirements, how we stand out from our competitors, how we’re currently incorporating accessibility, and what our accessibility goals are for the future.
According to the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT), “Accessibility means that everyone can use the exact same technology as anyone else—regardless of whether they can manipulate a mouse, how much vision they have, how many colors they can see, how much they can hear, or how they process information. Accessible technology adds layers into computer operating systems, mobile phones, and more to allow people with disabilities to access the same information as everyone else.”
To gain insight into digital inaccessibility, try one of the following activities:
Many of us have never experienced digital inaccessibility, but we can all agree any of the above scenarios would be frustrating. If our technology wasn’t accessible, how would we get our work or school assignments done?
Accessibility is front and center at Transact, which is why we hired one of the most knowledgeable, certified, and experienced digital accessibility experts in the country to lead the initiative, Alex Temples. Temples primarily works with product development teams, designers, and quality assurance testers to ensure our products are digitally accessible to all.
Before joining Transact, Temples worked with children with disabilities for almost a decade.
“In my time prior to Transact, I was tasked with ensuring electronic information technologies and services, either procured, produced, or maintained were accessible before local education agencies moved forward in their accessibility programs and efforts. Additionally, I provided professional development across state agencies to ensure buy-in from internal stakeholders as well as to ensure the staff were implementing accessibility policies, procedures, and best practices with fidelity. The experience of witnessing such a drastically positive impact from my work has truly been something that has given me a profound sense of meaning and once I discovered this, I then began dedicating my life to accessibility,” Temples said.
He holds three elite certifications from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP):
Temples is also a Trusted Tester as certified by the Department of Homeland Security.
“The CPWA is the highest level of certification offered by the IAAP and is highly regarded across the accessibility community. Moreover, the Trusted Tester certification qualifies an individual to conduct Section 508 testing of applications, ensuring they meet accessibility standards outlined in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973” Temples explained.
Temples is spearheading a transformative ‘shift left’ initiative in accessibility at Transact, emphasizing the integration of accessibility standards at the onset of the development process. By advocating for early and consistent inclusion of accessibility considerations, he is ensuring that these practices are ingrained in every stage of product development. His approach involves comprehensive training for the development team, fostering a deep understanding of accessibility challenges and solutions.
Under his leadership, Transact is striving not only toward meeting 100% compliance with WCAG 2.2 AA guidelines and Section 508 standards but also setting a new benchmark for inclusive design. Temples’ commitment to accessibility is shaping Transact to further prioritize user experience for all, reflecting a broader commitment to social responsibility and inclusivity.
Independent third-party accessibility audits play a crucial role in demonstrating Transact’s commitment to accessibility. These audits provide an objective assessment of Transact’s compliance with accessibility standards, identifying areas for improvement and validating efforts to create inclusive digital solutions. By voluntarily undergoing these rigorous evaluations, Transact not only ensures adherence to legal requirements but also showcases our dedication to creating an accessible experience for all users.
Temples takes a strategic approach to triaging the findings from these independent accessibility audits with Transact’s product teams. Upon receiving the audit results, he prioritizes issues based on their impact on user accessibility and the complexity of the required fixes. He then collaborates closely with the product teams to develop a clear, actionable plan for addressing these issues, ensuring that each team understands their responsibilities and estimated timelines. This process not only streamlines the resolution of accessibility issues, but also fosters a culture of continuous learning and improvement in accessibility practices with teams.
Since accessibility is becoming increasingly important to our clients, how are we differentiating ourselves from competitors?
“Transact demonstrates a strong commitment to accessibility through by dedicating a percentage of our product team's development time each sprint specifically for remediating accessibility issues identified in audits or reported through other channels. This significant allocation of resources underscores Transact’s dedication to making their products fully accessible and inclusive. By prioritizing accessibility in our development cycle, Transact ensures that address these issues is not an afterthought but an integral part of our processes. This approach not only helps in promptly addressing any existing barriers for users with disabilities but also embeds a culture of continuous improvement in accessibility within the development teams. Furthermore, this commitment reflects Transact’s broader strategy of being an industry leader in creating universally accessible digital experiences.
What other goals does Transact have for accessibility? Transact is exploring innovative technologies and methodologies to further enhance accessibility. We are investing in tools and software to further streamline the product development process, ensuring more comprehensive and efficient compliance checks. Furthermore, Transact collaborates with leading accessibility organizations and advocacy groups, leveraging their expertise to stay ahead of emerging trends and regulations in digital accessibility, thereby continuing to evolve our approach to meet the diverse needs of all users.
If you’re an existing client interested in learning more about accessibility at Transact, or a school that’s considering their options and is looking for a true accessibility partner and innovator, contact Temples at firstname.lastname@example.org. Temples will answer any questions you may have and direct you toward resources to help get you started on an improved road to accessibility on campus.
Temples is a true champion of accessibility and Transact is grateful to have him on board.
“Ensuring accessibility in everything I do is not just a responsibility, but a privilege that profoundly impacts lives, making a world of difference,” he said.