Lately, some organisational changes occurred at WACA:
Since May 2020, TÜV Austria has been acting as WACA’s new certification body. The Austrian Association in Support of the Blind and Visually Impaired now serves as organisational unit and it is also the main sponsor of the WACA initiative. The WACA Advisory Board has unanimously approved this decision. With immediate effect, the complete processing of the WACA certification, the application as well as marketing and accounting responsibilities have been integrated into the subsidiary of the largest Austrian self-help organisation for the blind and visually impaired, the HGBS-GmbH.
With more than 6,000 members, the Austrian Association in Support of the Blind and Visually Impaired is the largest self-help organisation for the blind and visually impaired in Austria and an expert in the fields of ICT, AI and assistive technologies. It represents the interests of around 318,000 severely visually impaired people throughout Austria, is active in various bodies in Austria and the European Commission and offers advice for those affected as well as a broad training concept.
The HGBS-GmbH is a 100% subsidiary of the Association and is mainly focused on the implementation of innovative technologies and concepts for specific products that are intended to make everyday and professional life easier for people with visual impairments. To this end, HGBS-GmbH offers various services for start-ups, project partners and companies that want to develop in the field of accessibility.
In addition to project and product development, the HGBS-GmbH also offers training opportunities for employees in the form of seminars and workshops. The objective of these courses is to raise awareness for the needs and capabilities of people with disabilities, the correct way to deal with customers and employees with disabilities and to create a basic understanding of the topic of accessibility.
Klaus Höckner, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of the Austrian Association in Support of the Blind and Visually Impaired and member of the WACA Advisory Board, notes: “Basic accessibility of websites is essential for people with disabilities, especially those with visual impairments, to be able to use information and services on the web. Websites certified with WACA – the first Austrian quality seal for accessibility – ensure comprehensive usability for all and guarantee compliance with existing laws such as the Web Accessibility Act and the Federal Disability Equality Act.”
Werner Rosenberger, Head of Project and WACA’s first point of contact, emphasises: “Our common goal is to motivate companies to see accessibility as a basic component of their service portfolio. This is a crucial aspect of user-friendliness for all people – whether disabled or not. For people with temporary or permanent disabilities, accessibility is a prerequisite for being able to access information and participate fully in society.”