Across every industry, there is a long-overdue push for accessible websites. We’ve seen new accessibility software pop up, a slew of lawsuits across every industry from pizza to beauty to higher education, and new legislation created to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities and those that make use of assistive technologies.
More than one in five people make use of assistive technology, according to UK and US government data. There are 13.9 million people with some sort of disability in the UK, including:
As this trend grows from the United States to a global conversation, it’s important to take a proactive approach to your digital properties. However, fixing code isn’t the crux of the issue from our point of view, and most likely not yours either.
But to what end? Making accessibility a priority in any organization can be a long process to change. Legislation makes it obvious that the mandatory changes must be made, but calling accessibility simply a ‘requirement’ doesn’t do it justice. When companies and leaders use language akin to “accessibility is a requirement, therefore…” the most meaningful context is missing. If people will find excuses not to change how they work, it will be a painstakingly slow battle.
Bringing people into the process of “finding a solution” makes it more likely that a company will embrace the change and it has a chance to be built into the culture. At every level and at every point of collaboration, accessibility is a priority that should be talked about openly.
Now that you’ve set accessibility as a priority for your team, so begins the journey of everyone getting up to speed. Based on your role in the organization, there will be different pieces of digital accessibility to know, take responsibility for, or be involved with at a strategy level. The following four stages, proposed by Carie Fisher, provides a helpful framework for understanding your accessibility journey.
Digital accessibility is not just a stamp of approval on your website, it’s a paradigm shift towards including real people. Digital inclusion is beyond the code, and it’s so much more than one piece of software can provide. Building accessibility into your culture is about leaving a legacy that isn’t based on ability or privilege. It’s about creating systems that work toward a better online world in which to connect and learn.