Previous Editions: Edition 4 (published February 18, 2002) • Read the Disclaimer Below • See also the new Edition on Accesibility

Accessibility – Section 508 and its Consequences

In this fourth edition of the SAP Design Guild, which is published in cooperation with SAP's Accessibility Competence Center (ACC) at SAP Labs in Palo Alto, experts discuss a wide range of accessibility issues. People with disabilities often cannot take part in substantial life activities, such as the use of products, information, or services. Giving disabled people access to these activities removes the barriers that prevent them from leading an active life. This not only helps people with disabilities – it typically benefits a wide range of people.

decoration imageAs an example, the carbon paper was initially invented for blind people. It allowed them to write without worrying about whether the pen had ink – they could simply use a metal stylus. Nowadays, carbon paper is in such a widespread use that nobody even thinks of its original purpose. Similarly, accessible software not only benefits users with disabilities but many others as well. For example, keyboard access may be mandatory for blind users, but is also important in usage contexts, such as mass data entry or work places with tight space requirements. Relying solely on sound for notifying users can be problematic not only for deaf people. Think of noisy work environments, such as engine rooms or powerhouses, where sounds may not be noticeable, but also of quiet environments, such as offices or trains, where sounds may disturb other people.

The Web fulfills a prominent role with respect to accessibility: It is a huge, worldwide hypertext-based information network that comes close to the original ideas that have once been proposed by hypertext pioneers, such as Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson. Once a piece of information is put into an electronic format, it can be made universally accessible through the Web. In this respect, the Web has a highly emancipatory impact for disabled people: it offers them new and easier access paths to information, and thus helps them to catch up with "ordinary" people.

This edition offers several sections, each reflecting the topic "accessibility" from a different point of view.

Read the Leading Article from Dena Shumila for a general introduction into accessibility


Disclaimer: Please note that this edition was written in 2002. Therefore, statements in the articles, particularly those regarding SAP's products, product strategy, and organizational structure, may no longer be valid.
For up-to-date information on SAP's accessibility strategy, please refer to:


Further Editions