Cynthia D. Waddell

[Photo] Cynthia D.  Waddell

Cynthia D. Waddell is the Executive Director of the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (IDCRI). She provides leadership and project oversight in carrying out ICDRI's mission to increase opportunities for people with disabilities by identifying barriers to participation and promoting best practices and universal design of technology for the global community.

In the world of accessibility, Cynthia Waddell is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in the field of electronic and information technology, as well as employment and construction. Named in the Top 25 Women on the Web by Webgrrls International in 1998, she received the first U.S. Government Technology Magazine award in 2003 for Leadership in Accessibility Technology and For Pioneering Advocacy and Education.

The free Cynthia Says web accessibility tool and portal was named after her and endorsed by the American Council of the Blind. The Cynthia Says portal ( is a joint Education and Outreach project of ICDRI, The Internet Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter, and HiSoftware.

Seeking a solution for access to information on the Web for the community of people with disabilities, Cynthia Waddell authored the first accessible web design standard in the U.S. that was recognized as a best practice by the federal government and contributed to the eventual passage of legislation, including the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards (Section 508). Her seminal paper, The Growing Digital Divide in Access for People with Disabilities: Overcoming Barriers to Participation, was commissioned by the Clinton Administration and has been translated and cited by foreign governments, businesses, universities, disability organizations, and entities around the world.

Cynthia Waddell combines her expertise in disability legislation, public policy, and technology to provide education and professional consulting services for government, higher education, and businesses. She serves as the accessibility quality assurance lead for award-winning government portals and provides Section 508 VPAT assistance for technology vendors. Active in a number of organizations, she is the North America Chair of the International Commission on Technology and Accessibility (ICTA), and Standing Commission of Rehabilitation International, and Vice-Chair of The Internet Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter.

Cynthia Waddell's work includes consultancies for the United Nations as an expert in accessible information and communication technologies (ICT) and for the body developing an international treaty n the rights of persons with disabilities. This is similar to her participation on the Portuguese International Accessibility Board that led to Portugal's adoption of the Portuguese Accessibility Guidelines for websites in 1999.

In 2003, Cynthia Waddell served as the accessible technology expert for the Bush Administration UK/U.S. seminar exchange on employment and technology; following her work for several years in the Boosting the UK Digital Economy—A Virtual Think Tank. In addition, she was the sole U.S. speaker at the 2001 Design for All European Day of Disabled People at the invitation of the European Commission and the European Disability Forum.

Cynthia Waddell has keynoted at many government, university, and industry forums in the U.S. and abroad. For example, in 2005 she presented at the UN World Summit on the Information Society at the invitation of Pacific Rim consortium. In 2004, she spoke at the U.S. National Summit for Disability and Distance Education in Washington D.C. She also spoke in Tokyo, Japan at an ICT symposium and at a meeting of Diet members in conjunction with the launch of the first accessible web requirements in the Japanese Industrial Standards. She also spoke at the Accessibility for All conference in Nice, France for the European Union (EU) Standardization bodies, an event that was part of the EU Design for All initiative for access to products, services, and the environment.

Cynthia Waddell is a lecturer in Law at her alma mater and holds a Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law. She was designated a Public Interest Disability Rights Scholar and a Dan Bradly Fellow for the Employment Law Center in San Francisco, California. In addition, she was a Rotary International Foundation Fellow at Exeter University, England, as well as an USC-Cambridge University Scholar at Cambridge University, England. She received he B.A., cum laude, from the University of Southern California.

Books from Cynthia

[Book Cover] Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance
Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance (Author)
From Friends of Ed, released July 24th, 2006
The power of the Web lies in the fact that anyone and everyone can access it, and this should also extend to users with disabilities. Accessibility is about making websites accessible to those with aural, visual, or physical disabilities, or rather, constructing...