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What Is Digital Accessibility and Why Should You Care?

header image of accessible icons on a keyboard

Have you ever thought about digital accessibility? I’ll admit I hadn’t until recently, because digital access hasn’t been something I struggle with. Despite having other disabilities, my awareness gap about digital accessibility is now part of my own allyship journey. Maybe it’s part of yours, too. In fact, digital accessibility is one of the most common awareness gaps when many people are designing digital content. This is because of the common default assumption (typically as a result of unexamined unconscious biases) that all users are non-disabled. Yet, more than one billion people currently experience some type of impairment or disability. Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) was started in 2012 in order to get folks, especially non-disabled people, thinking, talking, as well as learning about digital access and inclusion.

Digital accessibility refers to the usability of a website, app, or another digital experience by all users, regardless of disability. There is no one-size-fits-all approach and users have different needs and preferences. However, the purpose of digital accessibility is to strive for inclusivity along the spectrum of accessibility.

Disability inclusion and accessibility awareness is an integral part of any organization’s DEI plans, because we need to take seriously how accessibility is built into our work lives. Oftentimes, disabilities are associated with apparent (formerly visible) disabilities, such as a physical disability. It’s important to remember that there are a whole host of disabilities ranging from physical to intellectual to emotional. The purpose of discussing digital accessibility is to ensure everyone has access to content creation and digital interactions.

Curb cuts, or the gradual slope between the curb and the street, are a great example of effective universal design. This is because even though curb cuts help folks in wheelchairs and are therefore designed to benefit specific groups, curb cuts end up benefiting all people. Similarly, while digital accessibility is designed with vulnerable populations in mind, content is made more accessible for all populations. 

Not sure where to start with making your own content more accessible? Keep reading for ideas to start the journey! The following tips will also be helpful even if you’re already thinking of digital accessibility!

Digital Accessibility Tips 

  • Add alt text descriptions for images
    When using images on websites, social media, etc., it’s super important to create an alt text description so that screen readers can accurately depict the image. Be concise, include any words that appear in the image, and describe the image as if you were speaking on the phone.
  • Invest time and money to make web pages accessible for screen readers
    Companies like accessiBE ensure digital accessibility and adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
  • Use captions and make transcripts available
    Use captions in Google Slides andPowerPoint and turn on live transcripts during Zoom meetings. These digital tools ensure digital accessibility for folks who may have difficulty hearing,who are deaf or partially deaf, or who struggle to process information without captions. 

Remember:

The last point to remember is that digital accessibility is all about access to information! When you make your digital content accessible, you are intentionally inviting everyone to share in the value of what you’ve shared. 


To learn more about exploring unconscious biases and how they impact the workplace, check out our Unconscious Bias in the Workplace Online Course.