Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Overview

No matter when, where, or how, Americans deserve to understand information and communicate clearly—equitable and effective access is a basic right!

Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is a broad term that encompasses many types of devices, tools, and systems that facilitate our exchange of information. Accessible ICT eliminates barriers to equitable and effective communication, which everyone needs to find, use, and understand important information.

We rely on ICT all the time—especially to ensure our health and safety. Examples include:

  • Digital content (e.g., websites, blogs, newsletters, podcasts, videos)
  • Streaming services (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, Fubo)
  • Social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, YouTube, TikTok)
  • Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems 
  • Patient-provider communication channels (e.g., patient portals)
  • Video conferencing software (e.g., Zoom, Webex, Google Meet)
  • Messaging applications (e.g., email, iMessage, Slack channels) 
  • Alerting devices (e.g., smoke detectors, fire alarms)
  • and more!


ICT is defined in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as: “information technology and other equipment, systems, technologies, or processes, for which the principal function is the creation, manipulation, storage, display, receipt, or transmission of electronic data and information, as well as any associated content.”

Assistive Technology

While ICT designed with accessibility, accuracy, and quality in mind from the start is ideal, assistive technology ensures people with communication access needs can access content, systems, products, and services. In addition to hearing aids and cochlear implants, examples of hearing assistive technologies include:

  • Voice-to-text translation (e.g., closed captioning, captioned telephone service, Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART))
  • American Sign Language interpreters
  • Assistive Listening Devices (e.g., Bluetooth, hearing loops) 
  • Hearing aids and cochlear implants
  • Visual cues (e.g., flashing lights)
  • Tactile/Sensory cues (e.g., vibration)

Learn more about hearing assistive technology

Laws and Regulations

Federal laws and regulations detail technical standards and requirements to ensure all Americans, including people with disabilities and Veterans with service-connected injuries, can use ICT equitably and effectively. These include, but are not limited to:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehab Act)
Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act
The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA)
The 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA)

“The prevalence of information technology and the growing necessity of it in daily life make digital accessibility a continuing imperative for Federal agencies.”

Office of Management and Budget

Memorandum, Strengthening Digital Accessibility and the Management of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act