Digital workplace accessibility

A blog for Global Accessibility Awareness Day

The purpose of this day, May 9, is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities.

In New Zealand consideration of web and digital accessibility most attention is paid to public-facing websites that offer public information and services. We need to broaden the discussion, as digital applications have penetrated most areas of our daily life, accompanied by accessibility questions.

The workplace is increasingly digital. Some years ago I wrote an article for the Human Resources Journal, subsequently published on the Neon web site, An Accessible Work Wide Web.  Since then a great deal has changed, although some of the same accessibility tips I outlined then are still useful. It is time for Human Resources (HR) people to explore digital accessibility again. A few questions, by no means comprehensive, might help the discussion get started.

It is important to note that accessibility issues affect a range of disabled people, not just those using screen readers.

The recruitment process

  • Most recruiting is done online. How accessible are these processes, the web sites carrying the advertisement, the job descriptions, the forms for completion, responses and so on?
  • What happens if someone asks for information in an accessible format?
  • How easy is it for an applicant to discover what digital tools they need to be familiar with, to meet work requirements?

At the interview

  • Are people asked appropriately about their digital accessibility requirements as well as their physical access needs?
  • Is a test task accessible to all candidates?
  • How are interview questions about assistive technology handled?

In the workplace

  • When a disabled person starts work can they “hit the ground running” with their assistive technology?
  • Is your workplace truly inclusive or is there a scramble to cobble together an individual accommodation?
  • When tendering for intranet development and social media platforms what weight is given to accessibility?
  • How closely do you work with communications, web and IT people to achieve the best accessible outcomes for everyone in your organisation?
  • Do you know how and where to get help on digital accessibility?

Of course the whole thing would just go away if you rejected all applications from disabled people, (that you know about,) as too much trouble, but the risk is that you might just miss the best person for the job. That won’t solve the question of an ageing work force, or staff who acquire disabilities either. They might need digital accessibility so you can retain their skills and experience.

Like anything else, good planning and strategy will bring positive, productive results and prevent costly mistakes in terms of lost productivity, clumsy workarounds, or at worst human rights complaints or personal grievances.

Introducing accessibility using the concepts of universal design is a win-win in the workplace.

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Filed under Accessible Engagement, Disability Issues, Disability Rights, Inclusion, Information Accessibility, Web Accessibility

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