With the establishment of ABLE (Achievement for a Better Life Experience) accounts – which began January 1, 2015 – people with disabilities can set aside pre-tax dollars for educational pursuits even if they are receiving social security benefits. Disability advocates have hailed the accounts, claiming that they will create opportunities for advanced tax planning. This raises an important question: what accessible accounting resources are available for people with disabilities to use in managing their funds and assist with tax planning?1
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of accessible tools that are readily available and usable to people with disabilities. One exception is Quickbooks. Albert Rizzi, Founder of My Blind Spot, has worked with Intuit, a company that designed QuickBooks accounting, allowing customers to perform financial transactions and financial planning for small businesses.2
In collaboration with Intuit, QuickBooks has been designed to be compatible with screen readers such as Job Access with Speech (JAWS). The installation process and company set-up has been designed so that customers with vision loss can complete these tasks with the use of a screen reader. In addition to the initial installation process, QuickBooks allows customers with vision disabilities to set-up bank accounts using a screen reader with the ability to select certain functions. In addition to setting up bank accounts, QuickBooks allows customers with disabilities to write checks and streamlines the navigation process so that customers can easily access the most important and frequently used elements of the program. The success of an application such as this, is dependent upon how usable it is for customers with disabilities. QuickBooks has proven to be a product that is both usable and accessible to customers with disabilities.3
Rizzi summarized the successful collaboration: "My Blind Spot has enjoyed great successes through our partnership with Intuit dedicated to improving the usability and accessibility of QuickBooks for Windows. Intuit's CEO, Brad Smith, has committed to making accessibility and inclusion of disabled consumers a nonnegotiable. Moreover, Intuit has been making great strides in its efforts to enhance the usability of QuickBooks on-line, pioneering the next generation of financial management software for corporations and consumers."
Another positive development features AudioEye, Inc., which has collaborated ADP's human capital management (HCM) to make products digitally accessible to customers with disabilities. While ADP is the first company to partner with AudioEye, their collaboration demonstrates the potential for other companies to do the same or at the very least, consider the implications of creating digital accessible products.4
The use of creating such products has advantages for customer without disabilities, as well. For example, a customer can visualize, read and hear content at the same time when viewing a website. For people with disabilities there are several advantages to using AudioEye, including easily accessing information regarding pay, and customizing technology tools to address nearly all user accessibility issues for individuals with a variety of disabilities.5
Products with accessibility features not only raise the bar for improving accessibility with regard to financial management but they also offer opportunity to reach a segment of the population that has capital to spend. Creating accessible products allows people with disabilities to manage their finances better, as well as to create business opportunities in the business and financial sectors. The availability and usable of such products means people with disabilities – as well as those without disabilities – will be able to gain better access to resources that will allow them to participate in the marketplace.6
Disclaimer: The content of the ICT Blog does not serve as an endorsement of any commercial product or service, but rather an outlet to share information and opinions about accessible information and communication technologies.
1ABLE: A tax planning tool for people with disabilities (accessed October 19, 2016); available from http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/2015/nov/able-program-tax-planning-tool.html 2Product Evaluations and Guides: An Introduction to Accessible QuickBooks by Intuit and My Blind Spot (accessed October 19, 2016); available from http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw150502 3Product Evaluations and Guides: An Introduction to Accessible QuickBooks by Intuit and My Blind Spot (accessed October 19, 2016); available from http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw150502 4AudioEye Collaborates with ADP in a Commitment to Accessible Technology (accessed October 19, 2016); available from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/audioeye-collaborates-with-adp-in-a-commitment-to-accessible-technology-300341072.html 5AudioEye Collaborates with ADP in a Commitment to Accessible Technology (accessed October 19, 2016); available from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/audioeye-collaborates-with-adp-in-a-commitment-to-accessible-technology-300341072.html 6AudioEye Collaborates with ADP in a Commitment to Accessible Technology (accessed October 19, 2016); available from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/audioeye-collaborates-with-adp-in-a-commitment-to-accessible-technology-300341072.html
Beatrice Schmidt is a Corporate Services Specialist. She joined the National Business & Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center in September 2014. As a licensed social worker and a graduate of Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, with experience in the field as well as her diagnosis with cerebral palsy at the age of 6 months, Schmidt has extensive knowledge on the service delivery system, individual and family advocacy, as well as inclusive emergency planning for people with disabilities. As a self-advocate, she believes in the motto shared by the late Mattie Stepanek, "remember to play after every storm." View Original Article