Designing Products for All Users
Cisco is committed to designing and delivering accessible products and technologies to meet the needs of your organization. The Cisco Accessibility Initiative is a companywide effort that stresses the importance of creating accessible products.
Accessibility Policy and Legal Standards
Cisco's vision is to improve the way all people work, live, play, and learn.
The Cisco Accessibility Initiative identifies global accessibility and usability requirements and establishes strategies and processes to integrate accessibility throughout Cisco operations. Cisco's commitment is to make its products, services, websites, and documentation accessible and usable by people with disabilities, either by design or through compatible use with assistive technology.
Cisco Accessibility PolicyThe following key objectives for company business processes and activities help ensure that Cisco products and services benefit the disabled community:
- Increase awareness of accessibility within Cisco
- Provide employees with the training needed to design, produce, market, and deliver accessible products, websites, and documentation
- Develop and apply policies and guidelines to evaluate accessibility, usability, and compatibility with applicable equipment, services, websites and documentation
- Evaluate accessibility and usability throughout the product design, development, and fabrication processes as early and consistently as possible
- Report ways these guidelines are implemented where competitively, technically, and economically feasible
- Involve people with disabilities in research projects, testing, and trials
- Support and contribute to industry standards and guidelines for accessibility
Cisco and Accessibility Standards
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation ActCisco complies with accessibility laws, and strives to supply end-user devices that conform and support the U.S. Access Board's standards as referenced in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Section 255 of the Telecommunications ActCisco employs common accessibility features in its user devices, documents, and services, and has tested and achieved compatibility with third-party assistive devices. Its networks are compatible with common analog devices from the network core to the individual user.
Americans with Disabilities ActCisco complies with the ADA by enabling accessibility and accommodation in public areas and its customers' workplaces, and by implementing reasonable accommodation in its own workplace.
The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility ActThe CVAA is divided into two broad titles or sections. Title I addresses communications access to make products and services using broadband fully accessible to people with disabilities. Title II of the accessibility act breaks new ground to make it easier for people with disabilities to view video programming on television and the Internet. Cisco is participating in the review of these new requirements and researching the applicability to Cisco products.
World Wide Web WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines)In June 2009, Cisco adopted the WCAG 2.0 Level A requirements as best practices for development, testing and overall conformance for the Accessibility of Cisco Web-based products.
StandardsCisco accessibility initiatives are based soundly on public standards, including those issued by the U.S. Access Board; and on guidelines, including those published by the international World Wide Web Consortium.
Cisco is a key contributor to accessibility standards and guidelines created by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), and others. Cisco operates in a spirit of openness, as demonstrated by its participation in virtually every industry group concerned with networking standards and in its willingness to share innovations with others.
The Cisco Accessibility Initiative identifies global accessibility and usability requirements and establishes strategies and processes to integrate accessibility throughout Cisco operations.
Routers and Switches
Cisco IOS Software-based routers and switches offer remote configuration and monitoring by use of command-line interface (CLI*), which is fully compatible with assistive technology such as a screen reader, and also provide context-sensitive online help for users.
Security and VPN
Users of the Cisco ASA 5500 Adaptive Security Appliances 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.
*Note: These CLI-based applications meet the U.S. American Disability Act and conform to Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act.
Cisco Unified IP Phones provide many easy-to-use accessibility features
- Audio and visual alerts of phone states, including dial tone, ringing, mute status, and more.
- Visual alerts that are displayed on a large liquid crystal display (LCD) screen integrated into the phone.
- For people with low vision, an optional color LCD screen with high contrast and backlighting.
- Hearing-aid compatibility.
- Tactile discernible buttons and touch-screen for nonbiometric pointing devices.
- Cisco Unified IP Phones also support TTY (telephone typewriter), which is a telephone device for the deaf and hearing impaired. The TTY over IP requires quality of service (QoS) for reliable delivery, and enables users:
- To make or place a TTY call by either acoustically coupling a TTY to the Cisco Unified IP Phone or directly connecting it to the IP telephony network through an analog telephone adapter (ATA).
- Equal access to the mobility features of Cisco Unified IP Communications, which enables users to make and receive calls from different locations in the organization while retaining the same phone number by bringing only your TTY and an ATA.
- Cisco Unity Connection gives users the option to retrieve TTY messages as e-mail messages. The Cisco Unity Connection voice messaging system offers adjustable playback speed for messages and adjustable response times for people who need more time to respond to system prompts.
- People who have difficulty pressing keys can take full advantage of the productivity-enhancing features of Cisco Unified IP Phones by using voice commands with Cisco Personal Assistant.
- Cisco VT Advantage makes video telephony as easy as making a phone call.
- Accessibility within Cisco Unified Communications Solution Presentation.
Cisco uses a dedicated lab to test its products for accessibility and for compatibility with assistive technology devices, and to demonstrate to customers how its products can be used by people with disabilities.
Dedicated to Excellence in the Design and Usability of Cisco Products
Cisco works with people with disabilities to better understand how to design and build products that are usable by all people. The Cisco Accessibility Lab's state-of-the-art research environment, featuring one-way mirrors, assistive technologies, and completely digital audio- and video-recording capabilities, is used for:
- Focus groups
- Product evaluations
- Usability studies
The Lab is based in San Jose, California. Contact your Cisco account manager to see a tour of the facility or a demonstration.
Assistive Technology and Devices
Cisco develops relationships with leading assistive device vendors to help ensure that its accessibility solutions are not limited by any particular technical solution or method.
Assistive Technologies Available in the Lab:
- Freedom Scientific JAWs for Windows Screen Reader
- GW Micro Window-Eyes Screen Reader
- IntelliKeys, IntelliTools
- NaturalPoint Head Control
- TTY Devices:
- Ultratec Supercom
- Ameriphone Dialogue
- Ultratec Compact
- Ultratec Uniphone
- Voice Recognition Tools
- Screen Magnifiers
Please note: This is not an exhaustive list. Not all assistive technologies are used in testing all products. Listing on this page does not imply endorsement by Cisco.
Cisco works closely with partners to provide solutions that complement the Accessibility and usability of Cisco Products and Solutions.
IPblue: Providing Audio-Assisted Phones for the Visually Impaired
With built-in text-to-speech translation, the VTGO-PC Softphone provides audio assistance for all features of the Cisco IP phone, including caller ID, call hold, line status, advanced services such as call directory and missed calls, and even prompts and messages from third-party applications. Employees accustomed to a JAWS screen reader can either continue to use it with the IPblue softphone or switch to the integrated IP blue speech engine.
An accessible software phone specially built for the Cisco IP Communications system, the VTGO-PC Softphone from IPblue, can be deployed alone or in conjunction with the Cisco IP Phone 7960G. Users choose on a call-by-call basis which phone to use. Visit the IPblue web site for more information. Mobility capabilities help employees to retain the same phone number as they work from various locations. The VTGO-PC Softphone operates much like a typical phone: users don't need to use special keys for audio assistance, or to memorize or mark special-purpose keys. Using the NTS client software on a PC, TTY users can take advantage of a visual interface to dial extensions and other phone numbers. Use the computer keyboard to type TTY messages. Visit the IPblue web site for more information.
Singlewire (Berbee): Visual and Audio Emergency Notification Through the Phone
Overhead paging often does not reach deaf employees, which compromises safety. Singlewire InformaCast helps ensure the safety of all employees by simultaneously sending an audible broadcast and text message to Cisco IP phones. In this way, the organization helps ensure that all employees have equal access to vital information about emergencies or network outages, for example. Administrators can select a prerecorded message or record a live broadcast, and send it to all phones or selected groups. Visit the Singlewire web site for more information.
Purple Communications has developed Video Relay Service (VRS) for Cisco Unified Communications. It is a convenient, on-demand or scheduled interpreting service
delivered over a live Internet videoconnection. With certified interpreters and high-quality video, it's as if the interpreter is in the room with you.
Purple has also created ClearCaptions™ for Cisco, a product meant to be installed in your Cisco Unified Communications Manager environment. Through this solution, ClearCaptions displays near-real-time captions on Cisco Unified IP Phones so that employees with hearing loss never miss a word. By hearing and reading calls, employees get the whole conversation, enabling them to be more productive, and more confident in their jobs. For more information, visit the Purple Communications website.
accessaphone™ software applications engineered by Tenacity, an effective leader within the field of accessible telephony, provide a comprehensive list of Section 508 compliant communication interface options to control Cisco Unified IP Phones. Tenacity's Microsoft Windows® applications, include, but are not limited to, accessaphone and accessaphone ipTTY.
- accessaphone with integrated text-to-speech provides audible status for features of the Cisco IP phone, keyboard, and speech recognition controls for individuals who are blind / low vision / mobility impaired. Employees who prefer to use another screen reader may use accessaphone's text-to-speech for audible caller ID only. accessaphone is an enhanced interface for the Cisco IP Phones and does not replace the Cisco soft phone or desk phone.
- accessaphone ipTTY includes TTY compatibility, real time text and audio for individuals who are deaf/hard of hearing. accessaphone ipTTY helps businesses save money because end users are afforded the opportunity to communicate via TTY using the existing Cisco infrastructure without the need for additional analog lines, modems, or other equipment and barriers traditionally associated with TTY communications. The application communicates through IP and uses standard session initiation protocol (SIP) registered as a third-party SIP endpoint on Cisco Communications Manager. This soft client enables virtually every user on the telephony network to communicate with customer TTY machines, without the need for text relay service. Additionally ipTTY supports audio and real-time-text via RFC 4103; the future in real time text communication.
All accessaphone applications incorporate intuitive hotkeys to support individuals with cognitive impairments as well as alternative input devices for people with mobility impairments. For the organization, enterprise licensing creates a single entity-wide solution, with each individual's unique assistive technology (AT) needs matched by accessaphone built-in product/feature options. Visit the Tenacity accessaphone website for more information including Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs).
Case Studies, Success Stories, and Archives
Learn how implementing a Cisco solution contributed to customer success for people with disabilities at educational institutions, government agencies, and more.
Read articles about how Cisco customers have improved productivity for people with disabilities at educational institutions, government agencies, and more.
Case Studies and Success Stories
- ClearCaptions for Cisco Helps the Hard of Hearing - Video (4:23 mins), 2013-04-29
- Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf - PDF, 512k
- Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf - Text Version, 25k
- Kentucky School for Deaf - PDF, 1.2mb
- Center for Sight & Hearing - PDF, 1.4mb
- Center for Sight & Hearing - Text Version, 29k
- Cisco Jabber for Mac - PDF, 525k
- Cisco Jabber for Mac - Text Version, 24k
- American Foundation for the Blind: Accessibility Evaluation of accessaphone™ and Cisco VoIP - DOC, 700k
- City of Houston Public Library Gives Access to Disabled Users and Staff - PDF, 67k
- Community College Improves Accessibility and Learning (Moraine Valley Community College) - PDF, 66K
- Community College Improves Accessibility and Learning (Moraine Valley Community College) - Text Only
- Seattle Hearing, Speech & Deafness Center Improves Communications Services with Technology
- Cisco Technology Provides UK's First IP Video Call Centre for Deaf People
- How VoIP Can Connect the Disabled
- Blind Network Pros Now Have Certifications in Sight
- Academic Institutions Improve Productivity for Disabled
- Educational Institution Increase Administrative Productivity and Enhance Learning Experience
"We now have the opportunity to extend our hearing and vision services, helping anyone, anywhere. My vision is to have medical and rehabilitation services all available in one place, whether that's onsite or virtually. This is just the beginning. With Cisco technologies, we hope to do much more."President, Center for Sight and Hearing