The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and Oracle have embarked on a collaboration designed to improve accessibility of enterprise applications. Increased employment opportunities in technology, better training and education programs, new technical software solutions, and awareness are just a few of the expected benefits. As articulated by Oracle's President and CFO, Safra Catz: "Oracle is committed to creating accessible technologies and products that enhance the overall workplace environment and contribute to the productivity of our employees, our customers, and our customers' customers."
With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. The NFB improves blind people's lives through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence. It is the leading force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation's blind. In January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in the United States for the blind led by the blind.
Oracle's commitment to accessibility dates back to the year 2000. Our accessibility program translated the first international and US procurement regulations (WCAG 1.0 and Section 508) into internal development guidelines to be applied to our database, tools, middleware, and application products. For many reasons—legal, business, and ethical—Oracle recognizes the need for our applications, and our customers' and partners' products built with our tools, to be usable by the disabled community. The Oracle Accessibility Program Office, reporting to the office of the Chief Corporate Architect, is responsible for defining the corporate standards for accessibility, and developing materials to train all employees so that they can successfully create products that meet those standards.
The collaboration between the National Federation of the Blind and Oracle will make it easier for our applications to be better tailored to the needs of users, and will establish a constructive and proactive dialogue between the largest advocacy group for the blind and an internationally recognized best of breed enterprise vendor. Oracle believes that technology should be a unifying force:
"Oracle's business is information—how to manage it, use it, share it, protect it. Our commitment to create products that simplify, standardize and automate extends to all users, including users who are disabled."
—Edward Screven, Chief Corporate Architect, Oracle
Specific aspects of the collaboration include:
Use of Oracle University's training materials. The NFB and Oracle will jointly select and/or develop content that would be most useful to those seeking employment, based on specific job roles that the NFB actively encourages its members to seek.
Sharing of standards and best practices for code development, testing, and documentation, including criteria that the NFB uses to certify web sites.
Increased testing in Oracle's Usability Labs with persons with disabilities, as well as in-situ testing at places of employment, and Focus Group sessions.
Oracle will provide and install sample applications from several product lines on new servers physically located at the Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
Increased communications to foster awareness and solutions, including:
Participation by Oracle in NFB's community online forums
A joint session on Accessibility at Oracle Open World in San Francisco during the week of September 21, 2008, which is typically attended by 50,000 people
An article about Accessibility in Oracle's 2008 Corporate Citizenship Report
Articles about Accessibility in Oracle magazine, with a circulation of 800,000
Podcasts on Accessibility
Sponsorship of education-related programs at the NFB, such as the Junior Science Academy, which is open to children in grades 3-6 and is designed to expose blind children to the excitement and fun of science through real-life applications.