I will be presenting a paper “How E-Accessibility Policy Balances Economic and Social Needs” at the 8th International Conference on Evaluation for Practice at the University of Tampere in the City of Pori Finland on 18-20 June 2012.
The paper examines how national and supranational policy for promoting accessibility of information and communication technology (E-Accessibility) balance regional and international economic and social needs (e.g. as reflected in policies for ‘reasonable accommodation’ and ‘undue hardship’, the definition of ‘accessibility’, and the conditions regional authorities comply with E-Accessibility requirements). Due to its social and political importance, the paper focuses on web accessibility (Internet and intranet websites, web based applications, and non-traditional and emerging technologies).
Based on original research currently in progress the paper presents preliminary findings based on a content analysis of policy documents from the UN and EU, and the United States, United Kingdom, and Norway. The paper briefly describes the emergence of E-Accessibility on the UN and EU policy agenda, and then compares how and to what extent the US, UK and Norway have responded to or anticipated the needs and interests of business and regional authorities (e.g. in regulations of public procurement of accessible web solutions by regional authorities).
Achieving E-Accessibility depends on whether policymakers can regulate the market to address the needs of all people, including persons with disabilities. Social regulation policies aim to influence market function and the behavior of non-governmental actors in an attempt to promote social objectives. Policy dialogue between public authorities including standards organizations and monitoring agencies, business, and advocacy organizations has also impacted the nature of policy provisions and the achievement of policy goals.
The paper argues that the US, UK and Norway have different approaches to ensuring and enhancing economic opportunities for private enterprises and social opportunities for persons with disabilities. E-Accessibility policy programs and approaches in these countries have been influenced and framed by different national policy traditions, the distribution of roles, and the relationships between actors participating in the design and implementation of E-Accessibility policy.