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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds NEIL MILLIKEN: They reckon that the market for products for people with disabilities is worth $1.38 trillion, so why wouldn’t businesses be interested? It’s something that relates to not only their own employees, but it’s their customer base. We need to think about not just people with disabilities, but the fact that inaccessible products affect the families of people with disabilities. So we need to think about the wider market. And it’s not about corporate social responsibility. It’s a purely– if we’re thinking about it with our most cynical business heads, it’s purely about the fact that you’re missing a huge market if you don’t.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 seconds If a product or a service is inaccessible to someone with a disability, not only are you going to lose them as a customer, you’re most likely to lose their immediate family as well.

Skip to 1 minute and 9 seconds If you are a large business and you have a large web presence, the obvious place to start is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. That said, they can be quite impenetrable. There’s a lot of stuff in there. So I would say try and find someone to hand-hold. If you’re a business, it’s worth engaging a consultant to help you understand what it is that your business needs, work out your priorities. I think that we have to recognise that you cannot turn things around and make everything instantly accessible overnight, because there’s so much stuff out there. So it’s really about equality of access. You need to get everyone thinking about this. So enthuse people. Train them. Give them some disability awareness training.

Skip to 2 minutes and 4 seconds Get people thinking about it. And then it becomes something where people become champions. I think BBC are a great example of this. They’ve got a core of great accessibility experts, but they’re an organisation of 30,000 people. So that team, which is pretty small, cannot do everything. So therefore, you need other people. You need a hub and spoke, effectively, and champions. You need a network of people that are enthusiastic about the topic that can act as the guardians and gatekeepers.

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 seconds I think that at least at a minimum level, everyone in an organisation should have some knowledge of the issues that affect one in five of the population. And most likely, disability is effectively a gradient, and we’re all descending down that gradient as we age. Some people encounter issues earlier in their lives than others, but effectively, we’ll all encounter things where accessibility features will become important to us. I believe that anyone can influence an organisation. It’s harder to do it if you don’t have executive sponsorship. So my advice to anyone that wants to be a disability champion is go and find an executive sponsor.

Skip to 3 minutes and 26 seconds Search out the person that you think is high up enough in your organisation to be able to influence the processes and policies, and maybe the budget, of that organisation, and go and get them on side. And they will open doors for you. I think it’s absolutely key to have that executive sponsor. But they’re not the ones that are going to be doing the championing. They will help you, but actually, you don’t need to be an executive to be the champion. I’m not the executive. I am the champion within the organisation. Over five years, I’ve grown the function. So I started off as a single individual. I went out and found people to be sponsors, browbeating them, persuading them, cajoling them.

Skip to 4 minutes and 20 seconds And now we have an apprenticeship programme. I have a team of 13 people. We have standards. We have methodology. We have service offerings. And it’s something that the organisation is beginning to understand and accept that should be part of our business as usual.

Why should businesses care about accessibility?

Neil Milliken, as Head of Accessibility & Digital Inclusion at Atos has had many years of experience championing the way websites and applications can be made more accessible.

In this video he picks up on the ideas David discussed in the previous step and how poor accessibility can lead to the loss of clients, which may also impact on an organisation’s reputation through those clients’ wider circle of family and friends.

Neil also discusses the ideas of promoting accessibility throughout an organisation and gives the example of the BBC with a core of experts in an organisation of 30,000 people promoting disability champions. Neil like David stresses the importance of having what he calls “executive sponsors” in order to carry forward the ideas of the champions.

Would a hub and spoke approach suit your organisation or can you think of other ways of engaging service providers when it comes to spreading the ideas of digital accessibility?

© 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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This video is from the free online course:

Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society

University of Southampton