Accessibility: a growing focus area

Annika Willers · Innovation · Last updated on October 4th, 2021

Blind man working with braille display and screen reader.

There are more than a billion people in the world with a visual or other disability. Unfortunately, only 1 in 10 people can use the technologies suitable for this need, which means that a large number of people are unable to keep up in our society. And that while everything is arranged digitally nowadays (World Health Organization, December 2020).

It is important that digital technology is customized so that it can be used by everyone. And not only the technology needs to be adjusted, but also the mindset throughout the organization. Perhaps you have never thought about it before because you do not work in ICT or because you have not come across many people with disabilities in your immediate environment, but with such a large number of people with disabilities, you cannot ignore looking at their limitations but also on the advantages of inclusive work.

Different types of disabilities

Visual impairment is one of the most common limitations in the digital workplace. Good improvements have already been developed, such as having text read out loud or color settings with higher contrast. But when you can’t hear well or at all, it becomes very difficult to follow a presentation or watch a video made without subtitles. Fortunately, it is possible to add subtitles to presentations and videos with certain programs.

There are other limitations that can be taken into account such as people who are not very good at learning, find it difficult to remember terms, do not understand what is written, people who have only one working arm and therefore cannot type properly, people who are easily overexcited and experience needless visual distraction.

Why custom software is so important

All these adjustments that ensure that people with a disability can also work with the program, website or product is called “accessibility”. In addition to the accessible technology, the content also plays an important role. This means that all documents, descriptions and texts must also be accessible. It must be easy to understand when it is read aloud. A sentence like “Click on the green button as you can see in the image below…” is not clear to someone who is blind and therefore not accessible.

If you take a look at the current content, do you think that all texts and images are accessible for everyone? Probably not, so it is recommended to take a second look at the current content and study accessible writing for the text and images that will be posted in the future. Read our 7 tips for creating accessible content.

Note: The images themselves cannot be read aloud, but if you can fill in an alt text, you can place a short description that represents what is happening in the image. This makes it clear to everyone what is happening and the content is once again looked at critically.

Accessible tools for your digital workplace

One of the platforms where inclusiveness is the most crucial is the (social) intranet or Employee Experience Platform. It is one of the programs that is used daily by many companies as a place where all employees come together to share information and news. In Viadesk, the social intranet of Fellow Digitals, a lot of options are provided to take away barriers, which is why Viadesk has been certified by the Accessibility Foundation in September 2021. While this is not everything you need to do – take into account our set up and writing tips as well – it gives you reassurance that your platform is working in a certain way and offers functionalities that you need in order to give way to a barrier-free digital workplace.

How to write accessible content

Accessible content is the first step towards an inclusive workspace. We’ve gathered seven tips on how to improve and simplify your content.

Read our 7 writing tips