Innovation in Accessibility
1. Accessibility: Our Responsibility
As we at Cisco Systems® change how people work, live, play, and learn, it’s essential that we ensure the same for people with disabilities. That’s why we strive to make our products, services, Websites, and documentation accessible and usable by people with disabilities, whether by design or through compatible use with assistive technology.
Accessibility is built into the way we work, the products we develop, and the standards and regulations we follow. It’s a responsibility every Cisco employee embraces—because helping all people to contribute equally, regardless of ability, is the right thing to do.
2. Our Commitment to Accessible Products
The Cisco Accessibility Program is a global companywide effort that stresses the importance of creating accessible products throughout Cisco, with customers, and with our deployment partners. We help ensure that Cisco® products conform to accessibility regulations, and we make accessibility a priority consideration at every stage of the Cisco product lifecycle.
The showcase of the program is the Cisco Accessibility Design and Evaluation Lab, located in San Jose, California. Here Cisco works with accessibility experts and people with disabilities to design and build products that are usable by all people. We test and validate with a full range of assistive technologies. We demonstrate how our customer’s employees with disabilities can use our products. And we benefit from immediate, relevant feedback from our most demanding customers—Cisco employees with disabilities. (Contact your Cisco account manager to learn more or to schedule a tour of the facility.)
The Cisco Accessibility Program maintains detailed, current knowledge of global accessibility and usability laws, regulations, and standards. For example, Cisco tests products against U.S. standards that include Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Internationally, Cisco adheres to guidelines such as those published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Cisco also contributes to accessibility standards and guidelines created by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA).
At Cisco we approach accessibility with a philosophy of openness, willingly sharing our technological innovations with others through wide participation in industry groups. And we work with third-party vendors to enhance our solutions for broader accessibility.
3. A Range of Accessible Solutions
Cisco Systems has been designing accessible products for more than 20 years—hardware, software, and services that are now an essential part of business, education, government, and home communications. Today, our innovative spirit is shaped by a constant focus on accessibility across each of our major product lines.
A. Cisco IOS® Software
The foundation for Cisco® routers, switches, and other types of networking devices, Cisco IOS Software has always been fully accessible to people with disabilities. Cisco IOS Software-based routers and switches offer remote configuration and monitoring through the command-line interface (CLI), which is fully compatible with assistive technology such as screen readers. They also provide context-sensitive online help for users.
Cisco IOS Software operates on millions of systems from small home-office routers to the world’s largest service provider networks. But its inherent accessibility is perhaps described best by Marian Selea, a blind Cisco support engineer who provides Cisco IOS customer support daily.
“I lost my eyesight as an adult,” Selea says, “and Cisco IOS Software enabled me to continue to work in a technical field. Cisco IOS routers are natively text-based and compatible with my screen reader, and everything within the router is reachable through a command-line interface.”
Cisco’s innovation in accessibility reached a new milestone with the recent introduction of Cisco Text Relay for Baudot Phones. This technology implements a protocol for transporting Text Telephone (TTY/TTD) signals over voice over IP (VoIP) calls in a highly reliable manner.
B. Cisco Unified Communications
Cisco technologies deliver innovation, including accessibility features and capabilities, through the convergence of voice and data networks. Cisco Unified Communications, a system of voice and IP communications products and applications, is based on open interfaces and industry standards, allowing the easy integration of accessibility tools. A clear example of the benefits can be learned from Don Barrett, a blind employee at the U.S. Department of Education. Previously, when traveling, Barrett was unable to respond to urgent messages during the day, unlike his coworkers who checked e-mail frequently with PDA devices Barrett couldn’t use because of their lack of accessibility features. Now Cisco Unity® software handles his e-mail through his personal voicemail, enabling rapid response when necessary. Barrett’s Cisco Unified IP Phone announces the names of incoming callers, and he finds phone numbers in his electronic directory using voice commands.
Cisco Unified Video Advantage gives deaf people the ability to communicate in sign language using video telephony that’s as easy as making a phone call. Using related technologies, SignVideo, the United Kingdom’s first video contact center for deaf people, recently began offering callers immediate access to sign language interpreters. This service dramatically reduces the time and cost for the country’s 70,000 deaf users of sign language to communicate with local authorities and other public sector organizations.
C. Security and VPN
Users of the Cisco PIX® Security Appliance and Cisco VPN Client can choose from CLI or a graphical interface to configure and monitor the products, depending on their needs. CLI-based applications are fully accessible to screen reader technology and keyboard use without a mouse.
4. Workplaces that Work for Everyone
Every employee brings unique knowledge and skills—and sometimes, disabilities—to the job. At Cisco, we believe that workplace collaboration and productivity should never be limited by inaccessible technologies.
When you consider Cisco products for your organization, you can be sure of our commitment to accessibility regulations and standards. It’s an important part of providing a solution that meets your needs.
To learn more about the Cisco Accessibility Program: www.cisco.com/go/accessibility
5. Accessibility Equals Success
How have Cisco customers improved productivity for employees with disabilities? Get in-depth case studies and more here:
City Library Gives Access to Disabled Patrons and Staff
Community College Improves Accessibility and Learning
Additional Articles and News Releases
6. Addresses and contact information, copyright notice, legal disclaimers
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