My digital access dream
“Leave no one offline”
Author Mugambi Paul by definition, Digital accessibility refers to the digital design and development of products, devices, services, to
be usable by everyone, especially for people who are aging and with disabilities] UNCRPD].
As a public policy scholar diversity and inclusion expert I observe most companies have started to embrace physical accessibility policies and practices for their
customers, employees and partners. Meanwhile, digital accessibility has been a relatively new and emerging
topic as an innovation strategy vs legal compliance.
to put it differently, the digital revolution has altered the way we live, learn, stay connected, and work in society. Digital skills are a necessity for all to participate in different areas of life and the attainment of such skills can lead to endless new possibilities for people to grow.
However, the digital divide between those that benefit from these digital opportunities offered by modern society and those who cannot is growing at an alarming rate. This gap has particularly impacted persons with disabilities of all ages and older people. Reasons for this digital disparity can be attributed to inaccessibility, poor digital skills and a lack of inclusive education. In order to reach a state of full inclusion, more innovation is needed to enlarge the scope of support provision and, at the same time, existing support systems should be improved to fully incorporate the human rights approach of the UNCRPD.
On the other hand, COVID-19 has significantly raised the visibility of digital technology’s impact on the workplace.
In many cases, COVID-19 exposed the lack of accessibility in solutions for remote workers, and
in other cases, executives and managers realized that the jobs they thought could never be
remote actually can be. Overall, the impact of this pandemic has further accelerated digital
transformation as evidenced by several studies. It also has “normalized” accommodation requests and the adoption of inclusive
technology [ILO 2020 HI 2020 IDA 2020[. ent years, the general awareness of digital accessibility has been on the rise, and many companies do have well-established accessibility solutions
and practices around mobility, vision, hearing, and increasingly in the area of cognitive and neurodiversity disability. I opine, One fast emerging area of disability
is mental health. The social isolation and wellbeing challenges caused by COVID-19 are creating new challenges to explore new digital solutions in this
area. With the rising tide of the global disability movement and the convergence of social justice movements and pandemic disruption, there is an opportunity
to re-think the D&I approach, including increasing the focus on digital accessibility as part of the inclusive digital transformation strategy.
As disability sausage media we concur with the slogan “Leave no one offline”.
Globally, organizations are looking for talent to create growth and increase profitability. There is an increasing awareness that people with disabilities
are an untapped pool of talent that can propel business objectives. We hope to see progressive actions from public and private sectors.
Furthermore, Investment in digital accessibility is not just for people with disabilities: as disability sausage media we believe it has a universal impact because digital accessibility, if implemented with
transformational strategy in mind, is about extreme personalization, such that each person, whether it is a customer, employee or partner can have a meaningful
and enjoyable digital experience. It is about putting the human first in the technology infrastructure, solution thinking, design and development. Since
it is a technology strategy based on not just recognizing but respecting individual differences in ability, its implementation can have the deepest impact
on people and business. As such, digital accessibility can and should become a rallying point where communities for HR, IT and all of the lines of business come together proactively,
collaboratively and holistically to address the tremendous impact digital transformation is having on the future of the workplace and marketplace.
Join us in the disability sausage YouTube channel for much mouthwatering articles
The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.
Australian Chief Minister Award winner
“Excellence of making inclusion happen”