Over the past few years, we have adopted a wholly digital way of working. We have swapped pencil and paper, whiteboards, and in-person meetings for equivalent digital tools like online conferencing, virtual management systems and Apps. In doing so, we have discovered that our digital world — just like our physical world — comes with its own barriers and limitations. This can ultimately impact the quality of people’s inclusion and participation.
That is why digital accessibility is better for everyone.
In this article, we explore what digital accessibility is and why it is good for business. Here are five best practice measures to ensure your workplace is digitally accessible to all people.
What is digital accessibility?
We have all experienced the frustration of a hyperlink that takes you in circles or an online form that won’t load or submit properly. Or a font size or format that makes reading difficult, or a colour contrast that blurs the content. Literacy is also a barrier to access for many Australian users.
When digital products, services and content are designed and developed thoughtfully, people of all abilities can access, understand, and interact with them effectively. It takes into consideration factors like ability, age, injury, and situation.
Digital accessibility is good for business
When there is equitable access to workplace technologies, employees are empowered to effectively undertake their work duties independently, efficiently and with dignity. “This sense of empowerment leads to workplace satisfaction, which benefits all parts of an organisation,” said Vicky Lazarus, Manager for the Not-for-Profit Division. “It creates a positive team environment, increases proficiency, improves retention. It also lifts staff morale, adds value and purpose to role responsibilities, and improves overall business metrics.”
“Digital accessibility creates a platform for team cohesiveness, a sense of belonging and allows employees to work together, no matter their geographical location or personal situation,” she added.
Think about the digital ways of working at your organisation and ask yourself this question: Are there any barriers that could affect people’s equal participation and engagement?
Digital accessibility at Moir Group
“At Moir Group, we have various measures in place to ensure our communication is accessible to our staff, clients, and candidates. From our position descriptions to our educational resources, to our online webinars and internal systems, to our website and social media channels. It’s important that everyone can access and engage with the information we share,” shared Vicky.
“We connect with our remote candidates via Zoom and other platforms who we previously would have had difficulty reaching. Similarly, we advise our clients to hold online interviews with prospective employees to ensure those that live remotely or who can’t attend a face-to-face interview on that day, are included in the recruitment process.”
“We also receive expert advice on our website’s UX (user experience) from a marketing agency. This includes particular attention to typeface, Alt-text, captions to videos, colour contrast, clear and meaningful links among other considerations.”
5 best practice measures for digital accessibility
These best practice measures are designed to widen the digital participation of staff and clients at your workplace, which has never been more important than now.
1. Implement web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG)
WCAG (currently version WCAG 2.0) provides a comprehensive set of guidelines to make digital content more accessible. It covers various aspects such as text alternatives for non-text content, keyboard accessibility, colour contrast, and more. Adhering to WCAG standards ensures that your digital assets meet global accessibility standards.
2. Educate your team
Make accessibility a part of your daily conversations at work. Hold training sessions to raise awareness about accessibility guidelines, assistive technologies, accessibility tools, and inclusive design principles. Encourage your employees to consider accessibility when creating digital content and provide them with the necessary resources and tools. “Creating a workplace where staff feel psychologically safe is very important. When staff feel safe, they feel comfortable talking to their employer and colleagues about their workplace experience and if something needs addressing,” said Vicky.
3. Incorporate accessibility from the outset
Accessibility is often an afterthought in digital projects, overlooked due to time or budget constraints. Businesses that weave the needs and perspectives of people of all abilities into their initial plans and objectives are bound to be more successful when developing or improving products and services.
4. Provide alternative formats
Ensure your digital content is available in alternative formats to accommodate for different needs. For example, provide text transcripts for audio or video content, offer downloadable documents in accessible formats such as HTML or tagged PDFs, and provide alternative methods for access such as keyboard shortcuts alongside mouse interactions. Vision Australia provides further tips.
5. Establish an accessibility policy and governance
Create a policy that outlines your commitment and sets guidelines for all digital content produced by your organisation. Establish a governance structure to ensure ongoing compliance and accountability. This may involve appointing an accessibility coordinator, conducting regular audits, and integrating accessibility into your project management processes.
Digital accessibility is a process that will never be ‘done.’ It is an ongoing commitment that requires continued learning, transparency, and staying up to date with the evolving standards and technologies.
At Moir Group, we are passionate about job satisfaction and inclusion. To learn more, read this blog post about Building a place of belonging — not an office and Improving diversity in the workplace — 5 actions you can take.
Contact the Moir Group team today for a chat.