In December 2001, SAP became an official sponsor of the Worldwide Web
Consortiums Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). While many SAP customers
are most familiar with W3C as a resource for specifications and guidelines
on web technologies such as XML and HTML, its overarching mission is to
lead the web to its full potential which includes ensuring web
accessibility for all users, regardless of their functional limitations.
As part of our commitment to promoting usability for people with disabilities,
SAP has joined the W3Cs Accessibility Initiative to help steer the
future direction of accessibility policy with regard to the web and, more
importantly, to web applications and e-business solutions globally. As
accommodating users with disabilities gains importance among employers
both in the public sector and the private sector, SAP is pursuing every
avenue in our effort to provide our customers with products and solutions
that meet these users needs.
The WAI has already had a very real influence on accessibility policy
in the United States. The U.S. federal government adopted WAI standards1
as the basis for recently enacted regulations, referred to as Section
508, that require equal access to information technology for people with
disabilities. This legislation affects all companies involved in the IT
industry that supply products to the public sector including SAP.2
The U.S. federal agency tasked with developing Section 508, the Access
Board, openly based many of the regulations on the Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines (WCAG) developed by the WAI.
Currently, WCAG standards and Section 508
regulations focus heavily on web sites. As a sponsor of the WAI, SAP will
be in a position to influence the further development of these standards
to give web applications and e-business solutions more consideration.
SAP will also have the opportunity to bring
our knowledge and experience in the areas of tools, and assistive technology
to WAI working groups. One such entity is the Evaluation and Repair Tools
Working Group, where we hope to highlight the needs of those who evaluate
and repair web applications. In the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines
Working Group, we aim to heighten awareness of web application users
needs when it comes to browsers and assistive technology an area
where the SAP Accessibility Program is already performing research and
development specifically for the users of SAP products.
Whats more, SAPs WAI sponsorship
enables SAP to participate in the WAI Steering Council, joining major
software manufacturers, such as Microsoft and IBM, in determining the
future of web accessibility at a global level.
Producing accessible solutions for SAP
users, including those with disabilities, is SAPs goal. Joining
WAI as a sponsor solidifies SAPs commitment to becoming a leader
in accessibility and influencing the direction of accessibility of IT
products in the future.
Watch for more information from the SAP
Accessibility Competence Center on SAPs accessibility initiatives
For more on the WAI, visit www.w3.org/WAI/.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, version
The regulations known as Section 508 (www.section508.gov)
are part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,
recently amended in June 2001. For more information,
see Physical Disabilities Should Not
Be an Obstacle: Making SAP Systems Accessible
to Everyone in the
July-September 2001 issue of SAP Insider, and in the Article Archives.
Audrey Weinland first joined SAP in 1989 and has worked for the SAP Accessibility
Competence Center since early 2001. As a member of the ACC team, she is
responsible for supporting SAP in its efforts to develop products and
solutions that are accessible to all users.