Our Values in Action–Diversity: Unlocking Inclusivity & The Vital Role of Digital Accessibility

Last fall, our Abled and DisAbled Advocates Partnering Together (ADAPT) employee resource group hosted a webinar, Accountability for Accessibility, featuring guest speaker Jamie Shields. An award-winning Disability Employee Resource Group Leader, Jamie takes immense pride in his role of fostering a sense of belonging for disabled individuals in the workplace. During this webinar, Jamie and ADAPT members discussed the topics of content accessibility (understanding the importance of accessible content online) and ableism.

Accessibility is vital, as it ensures that everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, can access and benefit from the same opportunities, services, and products. The context of digital accessibility, however, may be more of an unfamiliar term to some. Achieving digital accessibility means that all people can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with electronic information and be active, contributing members of the digital world.  

Examples of digital accessibility are designing and developing websites, apps, and content in a way that can be easily used and understood by people with various disabilities, such as visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive impairments. This includes providing alternative text for images, captions for videos, keyboard navigation options, adjustable text sizes, and compatibility with screen readers. Website accessibility is becoming increasingly important as well, according to a recent article from Forbes. One of the main reasons for this is the growing number of people with disabilities.

According to the World Health Organization and the CDC, 16% of the world's population, and 26% of the U.S. population have a disability. That's over one billion people worldwide and around 86 million people in the U.S. who may be unable to access websites that are not designed with accessibility in mind. This can include physical, sensory, cognitive and intellectual disabilities. With such a large portion of the population affected by disabilities, it is essential that websites are designed to be inclusive and accessible to all.

My key takeaways from our Accountability for Accessibility webinar were the simple things I can incorporate into my daily interactions while collaborating with others. This includes using accessible font colors, sizes, and types in presentations, emails, and all writing. While creativity is valuable, it's important to ensure that our content remains accessible to everyone. This also means being mindful of excessive emoji use, as they can sometimes hinder content accessibility. Additionally, considering the use of descriptive text in our posts can greatly enhance content accessibility. These are practical steps that each of us can take to ensure that our content is inclusive and accessible to all.

ADAPT has several planned events coming up this year, and I encourage employees to join in; all are welcome. We are focused on empowerment, equal access and opportunity, and promoting diversity and inclusion for all people with diverse abilities. 


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