Ensure global compliance with enterprise document accessibility solutions

Five principles to ensure inclusivity for all individuals

Alex Martinez profile picture
Alex Martinez

June 27, 20245 minute read

A woman with glasses reads on a tablet.

As a product marketing expert immersed in the nuances of global compliance in highly regulated industries like healthcare and financial services, I’ve come to understand the critical importance of enterprise document accessibility. It’s not just a matter of ethical business practices but also about embracing the robustness in the requirement for legal compliance across various jurisdictions. Today, I want to share why organizations should prioritize making their enterprise documents accessible.

Firstly, document accessibility ensures that all individuals, regardless of physical or cognitive abilities, can access, use, and benefit from the information provided. This inclusivity is vital as it reflects an organization’s commitment to diversity and equality. Whether it’s an employee, a customer, a patient, a citizen, or a stakeholder, everyone should have the same access to information. The legal landscape around the world increasingly mandates this accessibility. From the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States, to Section 508, to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in Canada, and similar legislation in the European Union with the European Accessibility Act (EAA), non-compliance is not just a risk but also a potential financial and reputational disaster. Failing to meet these standards can lead to hefty fines, legal challenges, and a tarnished brand image.

In addition, I’ve witnessed firsthand the profound impact that accessible documents have on the visually impaired community. By adopting accessibility capabilities like screen reader compatibility and alternative text for images, many of our customers leveraging our Enterprise Document Accessibility solutions, have significantly enhanced the user experience for the visually impaired. This has empowered our customer’s clients with greater independence when interacting with the organization’s products, services, and information. It has naturally led to forging a stronger relationship with their businesses as a by-product. And the feedback we have received from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive. Accessible documents are typically easier to navigate and understand, reducing the time and resources spent assisting individuals to access the information they need. This efficiency has lead to a better customer service experience and improved employee satisfaction.

Promoting accessibility in documents signals a forward-thinking, inclusive corporate ethos. It shows potential clients and partners that your organization cares about every individual, setting you apart from competitors and strengthening your position in the market. Therefore, I contend that there are five essential principles that every business or organization must embrace to ensure compliance and inclusivity for all individuals with visual impairments.

Organizations must adhere to accessibility laws like the ADA in the U.S. and the AODA in Canada, as well as the European Accessibility Act and the Web Accessibility Directive in the EU, to avoid legal repercussions and financial penalties. A notable case that set a precedent was the 2008 settlement by the National Federation of the Blind with Target retailers, which included class damages of $6 million and substantial legal fees, highlighting the financial and reputational risks of non-compliance.

2. Enhancing brand reputation and CSR

A commitment to accessibility can significantly enhance a company’s brand reputation. It demonstrates a sense of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and shows that business values diversity and inclusivity. Many organizations have seen considerable benefits from integrating accessibility into their brand identity, contributing to a more inclusive culture and improved customer engagement.

3. Market expansion and customer loyalty

The global market for people with disabilities is large and growing, with significant disposable income. The World Health Organization estimates that over 1.3 billion people – 15% to 20% of the global population – experience disability. This group, along with their friends and family, has a spending power of $13 trillion. In the UK alone, this market, known as the Purple Pound, has an annual spending of at least £274 billion. Making enterprise documents and digital platforms accessible can tap into this market, increasing customer loyalty and expanding the customer base.

4. Operational efficiency and innovation

Incorporating accessibility into digital products and services can lead to innovation benefits that extend beyond just the disabled community. For instance, features initially designed for accessibility, like voice commands and auto-complete functions, have found widespread usage among the general population, enhancing overall product usability and customer satisfaction.

5. Workforce diversity and productivity

Emphasizing digital accessibility can also aid in recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, including talented individuals with disabilities. Studies, such as one conducted by Accenture, have shown that companies leading in disability employment practices experience higher productivity, better workplace safety, and increased profit margins.

Finally, let me again, reemphasize that enterprise document accessibility is not merely a legal obligation but also a strategic advantage that enhances operational efficiency, expands market share and loyalty, and promotes a universally inclusive corporate culture. Let’s not view accessibility as a checkbox to tick for compliance. Instead, let’s embrace it as a core part of our organizational strategy, ensuring we are inclusive, compliant, and above all, a leader in ethical business practices.

Learn more about how OpenText™ can help your organization make documents fully accessible and compliant with Enterprise Document Accessibility Solutions.

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Alex Martinez

Alex is a Senior Product Marketing manager at OpenText with over 20 years experience working with customers and partners across multiple verticals with a strong focus on the Healthcare and Financial Services markets. He is keen on guiding customers through their digital transformation journey, taking a solution-oriented approach to solving their day-to-day problems.

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