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APM Thames Valley: Demystifying digital accessibility

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What is digital accessibility? (Spoiler: it’s making sure we design and develop websites, systems, and digital content and experiences which are accessible by everyone – including disabled users.)

We’ll take a look at the principles behind it and why it’s vital (and often overlooked) in today’s organisations. We’ll think about how it can benefit staff, clients and customers, and how ensuring best practice in digital accessibility can act as a strong foundation to help to foster an inclusive and diverse organisational culture. We’ll also consider the practical challenges which are faced when embedding best practice in digital accessibility into ways of working, and how applying change management principles can provide an effective toolkit for approaching and assisting with this.

The Equality Act (2010) broadly protects certain characteristics, including the rights of disabled people so that everyone can have equal access to participate in society. This includes online and digital spaces, and it’s therefore vital to make sure that our organisations, services, digital content, and ways of working are set up in the right way to accommodate the needs of a diverse audience so that everyone can feel included and engaged. This includes considering best practice in a wide range of contexts – from the documents you make and use, the websites you build, the development cycles you follow, to the IT solutions you procure, and the online meetings you host. Good digital accessibility is more than just meeting our legal obligations, it’s the right thing to do. Without an inclusive approach, you could be at risk of excluding people, whether that’s team members, or potential customers.

There are principles, standards, and best practice which we need to follow, and these can often take a certain amount of time, effort, and expertise to interpret, but you don’t have to be an expert to get to grips with the basics. The journey to becoming more accessible is exactly, that – a journey rather than a quick fix. There are ways in which you can embed good digital accessibility into ways of working sustainably and effectively by following small steps to ensure the change management process is as smooth as possible.