Accessibility in a Digital-First World

With the term “accessibility”, the first thing that usually comes to mind is physical accessibility e.g. accessible washrooms, wheelchair ramps, accessible road crossings, etc. This perspective completely ignores another realm that most people exist in, i.e. the digital world. Today it is extremely common for individuals to spend 11+ hours a day on their electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets and computers, so we simply cannot afford to ignore accessibility in the context of the digital interactions. Digital accessibility encompasses a variety of virtual interactions, including those made on websites, on personal electronic devices as well as via digital or electronic communications and documents.

Taking a closer look at the numbers, we quickly realize that the population of individuals requiring accessible communications is quite large. More than 285 million individuals across the world have some form of visual impairment – that’s nearly 5% of the global population. This number is not static either; it is rapidly growing, with people living longer lives, and thereby increasing the population of aging individuals. In the United States alone, there are over 21 million adults reporting some form of vision loss, out of which over 6 million are completely blind and 2.5 million require large print to be able to read.

Governments around the world have recognized accessibility as a global issue and have acted on the need to mandate accessible communications in an increasingly digital-first world. This is not about limiting accessible communications to traditional formats such as braille, large print and spoken word audio that are time consuming and expensive to produce, but about making all forms of communications accessible on-demand, in digital or electronic formats, without the need to self-identify.

Governments have addressed the information accessibility issue through legislation that applies to both the public and commercial sectors, for example, Section 508 and the Americans with Disabilities Act in the United States, often going to the extent of being industry-specific, such as Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act. While some of the legislation is brand new, others are amendments to existing regulations to include accessibility in the context of digital or electronic communications via e.g. websites, online documents, etc.

Many organizations around the world have begun working towards compliance to their country’s respective laws and making their websites, electronic communications such as PDF invoices, statements, notifications, tax forms, etc. available in formats that can be meaningfully navigated and read by screen reader technology on computers and mobile devices. What is your organization doing to meet this legal requirement and create an inclusionary environment for its customers?

Join us on Thursday, November 12 for a special educational session on providing equal and timely access to information by implementing digital accessibility. “ALX-112 Reaching All Data Consumers – the State of Output Accessibility” will include an overview of accessibility drivers, the end-user perspective on accessible communications, what creating accessible content entails as well as a demonstration on how automation can result in dramatic time and cost savings in creating accessible content. Learn what you can do to help your organization comply with legislation, expand their business footprint to a growing but previously ignored segment of the population and retain loyalty from their existing, aging customer base.

Meha Varier

Meha Varier is Product Marketing Director for OpenText’s Customer Experience Management division that offers a set of applications focused on delivering personalized content and engaging interactions along a continuous customer journey. With over 12 years of experience in product marketing and digital marketing at various enterprise software and digital companies, Meha brings extensive knowledge on how digital transformation drives customer experience and engagement.

Related Articles

Close