Jim Thatcher passed away on December 7, 2019.
His loss is deeply felt not only by his personal friends and colleagues, but the accessibility community at large. Jim’s contributions resulted in greater independence for millions of blind people around the world whose lives were enhanced by his passion and his pioneering accomplishments.

We loved him, we learned from him, we will always miss him.

As of December 2018, JimThatcher.com will be hosted by Knowbility. Why Knowbility is now hosting Jim’s site.


Accessibility Consulting

You probably came to my web site for one of two reasons; either you are looking for some information about accessibility or you are looking for someone to help you with accessibility in your organization. You've come to the right place in either case. Other reasons, then let me hear about them.

For information, there are two main resources here. Check out both the News and Resources sections. The tutorial on Web Accessibility for Section 508 is the most popular landing place on my site. This accessibility course was written for ITTATC (the Information Technology Technical Assistance and Training Center) which was funded by the General Services Administration.

If you are looking for an accessibility consultant, there are few people more qualified than I am. Here are some of the highlights of my experience in the area of accessibility:

  • Developed one of the first screen access systems for blind computer users, IBM Screen Reader for DOS (1984-1986) and Screen Reader/2 for OS/2, the first access system for a graphical user interface on the PC (1988-1991).
  • Led the effort to bring accessibility into the IBM development process (1996-2000)
  • Vice-Chair of the EITAAC, the Advisory Committee empanelled by the Access Board to draft the Section 508 Accessibility Standards (1999)
  • Auditor of Priceline.com for the Attorney General of New York State (2004-2006)
  • Lead author of the highly acclaimed new book, "Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance" (2006 - first edition, 2003)
  • Expert Witness for NFB in the matter of NFB vs. Target (2006-2007)
  • Designated consultant in the NFB and Amazon agreement (2007)

I can help you with expert accessibility evaluations (for web or software), provide training, or generally assist you in your efforts to establish or build accessibility in your organization.

Accessibility is good for business

There are lots of reasons for including accessibility into your business plans. The best reason is that accessible products and accessible web sites are just plain good for business. With accessible sites and products you have the opportunity for more customers. For the web, your site will likely work better on a range of devices and result in better indexing by search engines. Accessibility is the right thing to do.

If you intend to sell to the Federal Government then accessibility is part of the deal. All electronic and information technology sold to agencies of the federal government must comply with the Section 508 Accessibility Standards as required by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990. It is this civil rights act that makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities. Though generally applied to physical accommodations (ramps, wide aisles and parking places) there is growing evidence that the ADA should or does apply to business conducted on the web.

Accessibility audits, evaluations and assessments

I can provide fast and thorough accessibility evaluations based on human review. I use tools that I developed for this purpose to streamline my evaluation process. My report will be exacting and helpful, not only listing the errors that I find but also including a measure of severity, reference to relevant guidelines or standards and a specification of what needs to be done to address each issue. My evaluations are realistic; they are based on standards and guidelines while taking into account what really makes a difference for people with disabilities.

With my report on your site's accessibility, your IT organization can correct high priority existing problems and plan for continued development of accessible content. Usually that report is enough, especially when coupled with the content of the Web Accessibility Course or the Web Accessibility book.

I have the background in assistive technology and accessibility. I understand the issues. I know the technology.


Accessibility training

I would be glad to provide training on web accessibility for your design, development and QA teams.

I can provide half- or full-day web accessibility training focused on the Section 508 Standards and the new WCAG 2.0 Guidelines and the Section 508 refresh. The course is for web developers and other professionals involved in development, testing or management of your web presence. Students in this course will gain a working definition of accessibility, learning specific techniques for accessible design plus tools and techniques for evaluating accessibility.

WCAG is changing. Version 2 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines has become a technical recommendation of the W3C. An Advisory Committee has drafted Section 508 Accessibility Standards and submitted their proposed 508 Standards to the Access Board. I can help you interpret the new guidelines and standards and integrate them into your accessibility program.