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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds DAVID CALDWELL: Businesses should care about digital accessibility for three main reasons. Firstly, there’s quite clearly a commercial element. There’s a huge untapped market when it comes to disabled people, especially in the UK, and it makes sense. It’s a largely untapped market who are very loyal. You should be serving those people. Secondly, it’s the right thing to do. There’s a clear social and moral element to this. Making sure that everybody can access your products and your services means that you’ll increase your market share and increase your profits. Thirdly, there’s the legal argument. So it’s not something that you can’t not do. And there’s equality legislation that means that you have to serve and be available for customers with disabilities.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 seconds Once you appreciated that you need to do accessibility, there are a few things that you can do. Firstly, getting somebody senior in your organisation to act as a sponsor is a really useful starting point. It adds some emphasis to the messaging and really focuses the organisation and everyone’s minds on accessibility. Secondly, look at some resourcing and some funding. If you’ve not got specialists internally, look at organisations that can support you with accessibility. And thirdly, think about how you prioritise the work that you do. You could boil the ocean when it comes to accessibility. Pick a handful of really quick and easy things that you can do to start the ball rolling.

Skip to 1 minute and 31 seconds I’d also really recommend having a look at organisations such as the Business Disability Forum and the IAAP, who can provide a framework for how you go from nothing to a fully inclusive and accessible organisation. All employees in an organisation should have a base-level understanding of disability and accessibility. Knowing what it means and how the business interacts with customers with a disability is the first step. Making sure that your front-line members of staff, so the people who are serving customers, know the right way to serve a customer is a great starting point.

Skip to 2 minutes and 4 seconds And actually, making that knowledge and understanding available to all colleagues and all members of staff is a great way to start to embed the culture around accessibility in your organisation. Secondly, if you’re working in a digital environment, it’s important to think about how your digital employees can start to embed accessibility in what they do. So you could look at specific role-based training for different members of your team or a generalist-style training that talks about the business case for accessibility, the high-level elements of accessibility– so for example, the principles of accessibility.

Skip to 2 minutes and 40 seconds For computing graduates, what we’re really looking for is at least a baseline understanding of accessibility, knowing how to take the technology that you already work in and make that accessible– so if you’re working in HTML, understanding web technology accessibility, so things like ARIA, for example. A basic understanding of those principles will really set you on the right road when it comes to accessibility. We’re also looking for the ability to adapt and change. So accessibility in the technology world moves so quickly. What you learn now may not be completely relevant in the future. The ability and the understanding that things will adapt and change is also really useful– lots of determination as well, of course.

Skip to 3 minutes and 23 seconds Mobile accessibility is of paramount importance to organisations. We’re seeing a lot of organisations move to a mobile-first architecture, so where we design for a mobile device first, and then we look at how we can adapt that to the web, rather than create something for the general web and adapting it to mobile. So responsive design, responsive web is incredibly important, and knowing how mobile technologies use accessibility, if I’m honest, is probably more important than software accessibility.

Digital accessibility and businesses

In this video you will hear David Caldwell, the IT Accessibility Manager at Barclays Bank, discussing the advantages of making your digital content and technologies accessible. He provides many useful pointers including some reasons for thinking about accessibility such as an untapped market of users, the social and moral element as well as the legal aspect.

David goes on to suggest getting a senior member of your organisation as a sponsor for the work you need to undertake and securing financial as well as good knowledge building resources. There may also be the need to prioritise the tasks. As he says “You could boil the ocean when you think about accessibility!” but there is more helpful advice in case you start to feel overwhelmed.

There are some links related to this topic available from the bottom of this page.

Having listened to David’s interview, what do you think organisations should be focusing on?

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© This work is created by the University of Southampton and licensed under CC-BY 4.0 International Licence. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.

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Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society

University of Southampton