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The critical space between: Access, inclusion and standards in information technologies

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By examining the Canadian standards system, and especially the work of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) related to accessibility, this article explores the question: can legislation and/or standards ensure access and inclusion for people with disabilities in the area of information technologies? And if so, what type is required? It argues that the standards system in Canada privileges the voices of industry while creating a discourse of public accountability and corporate social responsibility. This paradox leads to an undervaluing of the need for addressing issues of accessibility and inclusion in information technologies. By proactively seeking out innovators in the disability community and bringing them to the table, the CSA could open up the standards development discussions and find creative solutions to accessibility barriers. The principles of balanced representation and consensus decision-making open the possibility for discussions around standards that can effectively address access and inclusion of people with disabilities in the development and use of information technologies, but only if the systemic barriers to both individual and organizational participation are recognized and addressed.
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Keywords: accessibility; corporate social responsibility; disabilities; inclusion; information technologies; legislation; standards

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Disability Studies, University of Manitoba, 128 Education Building, 71 Curry Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 2N2, Canada

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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