We inherited a long-standing commitment to people with disabilities from IBM (our predecessor, IBM Printing Systems Division, was a part of IBM until June 1, 2007 when it became InfoPrint Solutions Company, a Ricoh - IBM joint venture). In 1999, IBM's Board of Directors adopted a worldwide standard to bring accessibility to the company’s roles as employer, manufacturer and service provider. This standard was created to support disabled employees, customers and members of the public with appropriate tools that enhance their ability to participate in a world where access to information is increasingly vital to daily life.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires access to electronic and information technology procured by Federal agencies. The Access Board developed accessibility standards for the various technologies covered by the law. These standards have been folded into the Federal government's procurement regulations.
Learn more by visiting: www.section508.gov
This Federal Agency is committed to accessible design. The United States Access Board develops and maintains design criteria for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, and for electronic and information technology and more.
Learn more by visiting: www.access-board.gov
We codified its corporate standards for product accessibility with the adoption of Company Standard 115 in December 2008. This standard contains a mandate for the assessment of accessibility characteristics of all new products. These assessments are conducted using a series of checklists that predate, but have evolved to mirror, the Section 508 standards. We continue to operate our Corporate Accessibility program in accordance with these standards.
Our developers begin to focus on accessibility in the initial design stages and conduct assessments at key checkpoints in the development process concluding with the product announcement. The results of these assessments include a definition of the accessibility features in our products.
We are prepared to support the needs of our customers today with information on our Section 508 compliance and a range of related issues that promote the highest levels of access for Federal employees and the public. We expect to evolve as Federal needs evolve and as the importance of accessible products spreads into state-level government as well as private industry. Additionally, we will adjust our processes as we, and our customers, gain experience.
We will support the government's efforts to enhance the effectiveness, clarity and ease of implementation of Section 508 through our continuous review of the accessibility requirements. We will also deliver compliance status and other useful information to our customers through this Web site and through others such as GSA's Buy Accessible. In all cases, our response will be tied to our ability to deliver clear, accurate, dependable information to Federal agencies (or anyone else requesting accessibility information) allowing them to promote access by the growing number of people who count on Federal information sources in their work and in their lives.
Our focus on accessibility encompasses our roles as a developer and manufacturer of Information Technology (IT) products, a service provider in the IT industry, a buyer of components, products and services and an employer looking to attract and retain the best talent in a competitive industry. To each of these roles, we bring a philosophy that focuses on enabling and easing information access for those people whose disabilities restrict direct access.
In addition to research, product development and manufacturing, we view accessibility in the context of how people work. Even the most accessible technologies cannot fully support people with disabilities unless they are combined with sensible business processes, management and personnel policies and support programs that combine to support access to the workplace and to information. This concept is applied across the company from web sites that support the public, to procurement approaches that enable suppliers with disabilities to compete for subcontracts to services available to our employees and applicants for employment that allow them to express their ability to contribute to our business.
In short, we recognize and strive to reflect the view that the promise of equal access can only be achieved through thoughtful deployment of policies, technologies and processes that recognize the needs and abilities of our employees, customers, suppliers and the general public. The approaches and standards that we have defined for ourselves are reflected in the products and services that we bring to market for customers around the world.
For product accessibility information the following Voluntary Product Assessment Templates are available:
This landmark legislation created new and comprehensive civil right protections for individuals with disabilities in the private sector. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in private employment (Title I), all state and local government agencies (Title II), places of public accommodation such as museums, restaurants, and theaters (Title III) and mandates accessibility to communication services for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired (Title IV). All businesses of 15 or more employees are required to make reasonable accommodations, so their facilities and information technologies are accessible to employees who have disabilities. Ricoh, as an employer, must make its IT products accessible to its employees. Although the ADA does not identify specific requirements to make electronic information technology accessible, it relies on existing government guidelines to determine what "reasonable accommodation" for IT implies. Recently, however, a lawsuit was filed to consider the Internet as a public facility and therefore subject to ADA accessibility requirements.
Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act requires all telecommunication equipment, CPE (customer premise equipment) and software to be directly accessible to individuals with disabilities where "readily achievable". Where not readily achievable, equipment and software must be compatible with existing accessibility aids. Section 255 guidelines identify detailed requirements for accessibility. Compatibility requirements focus on the need for standard connectors and TTY compatibility. The new rules define "accessibility" as access to the product and to information about the product which is functionally equivalent to what is provided to individuals without disabilities. Input and output must be usable without time constraints by persons who are without vision or have limited vision or color perception; who are deaf or have limited hearing; who have limited dexterity, strength or reach; who are without speech; and who have limited cognitive skills. The requirements of Section 255 became effective in 1999.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 is the most extensive new law with the most immediate effect. It requires all US federal agencies to make their information technology accessible to their employees and customers with disabilities. Starting in June 2001, all new IT equipment and services purchased by federal agencies must be accessible. This rule applies to all electronic equipment used in federal agencies (not just workstations). Customers must be able to access information available to the public. The law also gives federal employees and members of the public the right to sue if the government agency does not provide comparable access to the information and data available to people without disabilities. Section 508 also applies to Web sites that are produced for government agencies. All state agencies that receive federal funds under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 are also required to comply with S. 508 requirements.
Through the pressure of federal grants and the same public pressure applied to the federal government, state governments are following suit in legislating IT accessibility. Arkansas, California, Maryland, New York, Texas and Virginia have already done this. Bids to agencies in these states are being asked to include statements regarding accessibility just to qualify for consideration. It is probable that every state will develop its own accessibility requirements, similar to those of section 508; and the federal government is likely to apply the same requirement to universities, public schools, and other recipients of federal assistance.