Everyone can create better accessibility and inclusion for people with disability.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day (20 May) is an opportunity to educate ourselves about accessibility. Furthermore, how we can promote better access in everyday life for people living with injury, illness and disability.
In the last 12 months many forms of work have ‘gone online’ or managed to work from home.
While this has dramatically improved role flexibility, it has not necessarily improved accessibility in the same fashion.
What is Accessibility?
The word “accessibility” is primarily defined as “the quality of being able to be reached or entered”. It only starts to capture what accessibility means in practice for people living with injury, illness or disability.
This includes (but is not limited to):
- For people with disability to have the same opportunities as others to participate in social, political, and economic life
- E.g. participation in their community without restriction, access to employment opportunities and supportive workplaces
- Equal access, virtual or physical, to tools, organisations, services, and facilities – and that these address the access needs and preferences of people with disability
- E.g. making these compatible with assistive technologies and aids like screen readers and mobility devices
For people who do not live with disability, there are straightforward ways to advocate for improving accessibility in everyday life.
1. Using Easy Read for your written resources
Easy Read refers to the presentation of text in an accessible, easy to understand format.
It is useful for people with learning disabilities, and beneficial for people with difficulty reading or processing information.
Presenting information in this style includes presenting information using words and pictures/graphics, using simply structured, single-idea sentences.
Easy Read is not just editing an existing document into ‘simple’ language. Creating an Easy Read resource should focus on the main points of a document so that people can better understand and make decisions from them.
This gives people living with injury, illness or disability - along with their carers and support network – greater access to the information which affects their everyday lives.
For example, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) use Easy Read versions of their resources.
2. Make your content screen reader friendly
If you have an app or manage a website, you can make improvements to ensure your content is accessible to those who use a screen reader – for example people with low vision, impaired movement.
- Accessible navigation which enables a user to navigate pages using the TAB key on their keyboard or device
- Making your website or app responsive on mobile and tablet devices
- Using contrasting colours or an accessible colour palette
- Adding text resizing buttons or zoom options
- Clearly labelled links and form fields
- Having a print button and formatting your content to be print friendly
- Clear alternative text (‘Alt Text’) and image descriptions
- Videos with closed captions, audio description and transcripts
- Including a language translation option
If you are interested in finding out more about making your website or app WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) compliant, or improving their usability, you can begin by visiting ‘Where should I start?’ on the W3 website, or consult your web specialists.
3. How physically accessible are your premises?
If a person with disability intends to enter your premises, could they safely enter and negotiate your premises with ease?
You could have an accessibility issue stair-ing you in the face.
- Are the entrances and exits to the premises accessible?
- Can a person access all good and services within the building without assistance?
- Are rest rooms accessible by all people who need them?
- Do your emergency procedures (e.g., in case of fire) account for people with disability?
- Are your emergency alarms audio-visual?
Additional considerations include access to telephones and drinking fountains.
Examples of accommodations for your customers and employees with disability or mobility aids are:
- Widening doorways and corridors
- Adding ramps and/or lifts
- Installing Audio-visual fire alarms
- Including or upgrading accessible bathroom facilities
- Adding wayfinding signage throughout your premises
4. Make User Accessibility Testing a part of your process
Looking for ways to reach a wider audience? Want to improve your SEO and usability? Reduce negative user feedback?
User Accessibility Testing (UAT) is a form of usability testing for software and websites.
Its purpose is to ensure the application being tested is usable by certain groups of people. These include (but aren’t limited to):
- People with learning disability
- People with intellectual disability
- People with hearing and visual impairment – also colour blindness
- People with movement and motor skills disability
Making UAT a part of your development processes is a way of actively seeking feedback from people with disability.
Creating a space for their input and participation is a positive step towards inclusion for your organisation and making their goods and services accessible to more people.
5. Take a fresh look at your job descriptions
Anyone can be affected by injury, illness or disability at any time - from birth or a life-changing event.
If you're involved with recruiting or managing staff, you can do some futureproofing for your organisation.
If a current or prospective employees' injury, illness or disability did not interfere with a job's primary functions, could your organisation easily adjust or modify the duties and responsibilities of the role(s) to suit their capacity?
These considerations are especially important for a couple of key reasons.
Firstly, this accounts for people who are returning to their role after an incident or illness which has left them with an injury, illness, or disability.
Secondly, these considerations open the possibility of hiring someone living with injury, illness or disability.
These steps will create greater equity and access to employment for all people who want to work.
When 97% of employers benefit from hiring people with disability - including a more diverse range of employees through a Disability Employment Services program into your workplace is worthwhile.
Want to improve disability diversity and inclusivity in your business?
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