Accessibility for

Offering management

IBM’s competitiveness in the marketplace depends on our ability to delight every person we serve.

Accessibility helps IBM differentiate itself while growing new opportunities across industries. Build your strategy based on your target market, users, and growth. Enable your team to sell to customers who prioritize accessibility.



At IBM, we know the human condition is dynamic. Environments shift, people age, and the pace of work changes. With more than one billion people with disabilities worldwide, these challenges present us with an opportunity to deliver innovative offerings that can be accessed by the widest possible audience.

Aging population: By 2050, more than two billion persons worldwide will be over the age of 60, who may acquire disabilities such as low vision and mobility impairment.

Beyond disability

Mobile & global: There are over one billion mobile workers worldwide working outside the traditional desktop environment experiencing challenges with lighting, noise and language comprehension.

Illustration of a spaceship with a tower next to it which says IBM.

Today, voice recognition and screen reading capabilities are available on every smart phone. Accessibility has become a widespread focus, and IBM Fellow, Dr. Chieko Asakawa works with Carnegie Mellon University to pilot the next generation of smart assistive technologies. With the Cognitive Assistant, which Chieko demos in her Ted@IBM Talk, blind users can navigate the world with more autonomy and independence.

Case studies


With a social program management portfolio that includes supporting global healthcare marketplaces, Cúram’s offerings reach a very diverse demographic including senior citizens and people with disabilities. Their automation framework allows accessibility scans to be performed multiple times a day. This data is used to populate a dashboard that allows Cúram to monitor accessibility compliance with each delivery, making accessibility an essential element of their success.

What’s at stake? Litigation.

Commerce: In 2006, the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) led suit against a large retailer whose website was inaccessible to blind and visually impaired users. In 2008, the company settled the lawsuit for monetary damages and were required to have the NFB monitor their compliance.

Education: In April 2015, an online learning platform was forced to settle an accessibility lawsuit with the Department of Justice. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to make its platform accessible to people with disabilities including deaf, blind and low vision users.

Illustration of a spaceship with a tower next to it which says IBM.
Government bids

2013: The Department of Homeland (DHS) Security awarded IBM the right to bid against a multi-billion dollar multi-year RFP.

2014: NASA awarded IBM a 10-year contract, citing “IBM’s active participation in many accessibility standards organizations.”

Designing to reach every human being on the planet may be our key differentiator in the marketplace.

Phil Gilbert

General Manager, Design



Does my team know the importance of accessibility?

Take action

  • Schedule time with your brand accessibility focal point or accessibility expert to learn the impact of accessibility and confirm your technologies are accessible.
  • Identify individuals or programs to train your team on accessibility topics.
  • Budget for accessibility resources in the Commitment Pitch Playback.
What are the accessibility needs of the target market?

Take action

  • Consider your target industries. Do you sell to a government agency, financial institution, academia, health care, banking, travel or retail?
  • Include sponsor users that represent demographics including people with disabilities, aging persons, and mobile workers.
Within our target market, how diverse are the users?

Take action

  • Does user and market research address the challenges experienced by people with disabilities, including mobile workers and older adults?
  • Are your sponsor users representative of people with different abilities?
  • Are the brand accessibility focals or accessibility experts and persons with disabilities included in your playbacks?
Is the complete offering accessible for launch?

Take action

  • Finalize records in the Accessibility Compliance System (ACS) during “Design and Prove.”
  • Run your marketing materials and client-ready collateral by an accessibility expert to make sure they are accessible for launch.
  • Confirm that an Accessibility Conformance Report is made to report the product’s level of accessibility.
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