Most of us are so dependent on accessing digital information that we couldn’t make it through the day without using a computer or a smartphone. Yet, the ability to access digital information is denied to people with disabilities (PWD) and aging Baby Boomers daily.
What is not realized is that these access denial issues often stem from poorly coded digital platforms that unintentionally violate federal and state laws: barring hundreds of millions of people from enjoying and using the internet and software programs.
Embracing inclusivity in the workforce
In order to develop sustainable, usable, and accessible digital platforms, we must rely on professionals who are stakeholders in the outcomes. We, as a digital society, can only be complete when all citizens, including people with disabilities, have true access to digital offerings. A global society that is digitally inclusive for people of all abilities is not just the right thing to do anymore; it’s smart business.
Viewing people with disabilities as capable individuals, merely lacking access to the right tools needed to adequately and even exceptionally perform tasks, will allow for true inclusion in corporate America. Incorporating inclusive digital design in all we do as a society, will allow Ability to take its rightful place alongside Gender, Race and Orientation as benchmarks for a diverse workforce.
Roadblocks to Inclusive Digital Design
However, when advocating for inclusive digital design, I often hear, “If accessibility were important, our CIO and CTO would certainly know about such things.” “Accessibility is too expensive.” “There is no return on the investment.” “We really do not have consumers or employees with a disability.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to true inclusion around ability, ignorance abounds from the boardroom to the mailroom. With nearly 1.3 billion people in the world living with a disability, plus the billions of aging baby boomers, there is a huge wealth of untapped revenues and social capital to be realized (Source: The Return on Disability Group)
The good news is that our global society can be truly diverse and inclusive if we simply acknowledge the rights of PWD. Requiring that corporate diversity policies take a nonnegotiable approach to inclusion, accepting PWD as valued, capable and integral parts of the whole coupled with Taking a disruptive look at society’s position on ability, is the 1st step to ensure the disability community takes its rightful place alongside our nondisabled peers. Ensuring that digital platforms are inclusive worldwide, depends on turning to the stakeholders in the outcomes, end users with a disability. If that is to happen, and if ability is to be celebrated, our digitally dependent society must deliver a virtual world that is designed for all people of all abilities.
Leading the Charge in Inclusive Web Development and Testing
My Blind Spot (MBS) is dedicated to true inclusion, and maintains a people-centric approach to usability testing. Relying on experiential data and feedback from professionals representing a broad based community of multi-stakeholders, not only advances inclusive digital platforms (unlocking an untapped wealth of human capital and resources), but guarantees a seamless access to technologies in the 21st century for people of all abilities.
Together with our partners at Usablenet, we promote and facilitate research, development and mainstreaming of accessible ICT products and services for full functionality and usability by simply including PWD in all phases of development. This simple, but highly effective approach, allows MBS to guide organizations to keep up with the rapid pace of development and innovation in ICT products.
Working with MBS and our global team of capable, adept users of assistive technologies ensures a nonnegotiable approach to inclusive digital design. Partnering with MBS and Usablenet means an end to checking a box on minimal compliance, and allows corporations around the world to exceed these antiquated benchmarks for inclusion. There is no one better than a team of professionals and testers with a disability to ensure you are getting digital inclusion right.
Albert J. Rizzi, M.Ed. is the founder and CEO of My Blind Spot, a 501(c)(3) organization that is dedicated to inspiring accessibility for people of all abilities. My Blind Spot also serves the corporate community as an expert accessibility governance adviser, reviewing and auditing corporate digital platforms assessing them for digital compliance to regulations governing inclusion, usability and accessibility for the disability community.