Why Building an Accessible Digital Workplace Matters

Learn more about the digital workspace and why it is important to create a culture of inclusion with the help of the right tools and practices.
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Innovation leaders everywhere are investing in new technologies to bring people together, bridge organizational silos, and improve the employee experience.

As digital transformation becomes the growth engine in modern businesses, workplace apps, collaboration platforms, and communication tools are quickly replacing old ways of working and legacy systems.

Coupled with the advancement of assistive technology, digital transformation not only benefits the general workforce but also increases the labor force participation from members of underrepresented groups. In numbers, new technologies are expected to bring 350 million people with disabilities into the workforce, according to Accenture research.

But tech investment is only one side of the digital coin. Without accessible design, digital tools can become a barrier to collaboration.

The stakes are higher as workplace accessibility regulations extend to the digital world. Designing for accessibility is not only the right thing to do but also a legal act to ensure equality and human rights.

Continue reading below to understand the meaning of accessibility in the digital workplace and why it matters to your business.

The Emergence of the Digital Workplace

New technologies are changing the way people work, streamlining processes, and cultivating organizational agility at large.

From communication tools (Slack, Skype) and project management software (Jira, Trello) to corporate intranets (Confluence, Microsoft SharePoint), leaders are investing in digital solutions to facilitate collaboration and drive innovation across teams. This has given rise to the digital workplace.

However, the acceleration of digital workplaces has left some people behind.

Employees with disabilities, such as visual and hearing impairments, have limited access to and use of digital tools and online information due to the lack of assistive technologies. So how can your organization reap benefits of the digital workplace without alienating people with disabilities?

Enter digital accessibility, the regulatory framework that offers protection for disabled people to encourage their participation in online communities, especially in the business context.

Next, let’s dive deeper into the heart of digital accessibility and what your organization can do to get there.

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Digital Accessibility: The Perils of Digital Exclusion

At the moment, people with disabilities are still facing a massive employment gap. In America alone, only 29% of disabled adults are participating in the workforce, while up to 75% of their non-disabled peers are employed.

Accenture labor-force statistics
Source: Accenture analysis based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 2018

From a business perspective, these numbers represent employment inequality. Along with the advancement of HR technologies, traditional application processes and walk-in interviews are becoming obsolete. That means career opportunities are not available to disabled people simply due to job portal inaccessibility. Even after they’re hired, employees with disabilities often struggle to adapt to unaccommodating digital workplace environments.

That’s why we’ve seen a rise in accessibility lawsuits, which seek to extend protections beyond physical access to websites and other digital media. In fact, lawsuits involving ADA web accessibility have increased by 181% from 2017 to 2018 (source).

Below, we explain more about the tremendous business value that comes with better digital access.

Why Digital Accessibility Matters

Digital workplace accessibility is the answer to diversity and inclusion problems. Here are key competitive advantages enabled by digital accessibility:

  • Untapped talent pool

    In the face of a widening skills gap, digital accessibility enables leaders to attract, retain, and empower people with disabilities. Beyond ensuring equal employment opportunity, this can also bring in new perspectives and valuable problem-solving skills.
    For more inspiration, meet Joaquin Ortiz, Accenture Business and System Integration, as he shares How Living With a Disability Fuels an Innovative Spirit.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGoERv4-1Ro

  • Wisdom of crowds

    The goal of the digital workplace is to fuel collaboration and innovation across the enterprise. Today, business leaders actively seek the input and expertise of team members with disparate backgrounds before making decisions.
    Digital accessibility is the key to empowering an important audience with valuable insights into useability and inclusivity. And in case you are unaware, inclusive design has already gone mainstream.

Despite the legal ramifications of non-compliance, less than 10% of global websites are digitally compliant, according to AbilityNet. By integrating digital accessibility into websites, intranets, and apps, organizations are not only able to avoid potential lawsuits but also become advocates for diversity and inclusion.

What Does Digital Accessibility Entail?

Millions of people with disabilities, such as sensory and physical impairments, are excluded from digital society due to the lack of website accessibility. Unfortunately, many employers overlook the concept of accessible design when building a digital workplace.

Digital accessibility requirements govern websites, apps, electronic documents, and other digital media. They vary based on region, with WCAG and BITV being the most prominent standards. In general, accessibility guidelines aim to ensure that information can be easily accessed, consumed, or used by people with disabilities.

Here are some of the prominent features of an accessible intranet, specifically with Accessibility for Confluence.

  • Web Accessibility with Screen Reader 

Applications or tools that use a braille display or read text aloud to help individuals with visual impairments access digital information. The screen reader software essentially adjusts existing content for the display screen while enabling simpler and more intuitive navigation across the webpage. For example, here’s the screen reader mode in Accessibility for Confluence:

Sample_pages_in_Sreen_Reader_Mode
  • Optimized visuals and content translation

For visually-impaired users, content on accessible websites can be adjusted to higher display contrast as well as increased display sizes. More advanced solutions can convert icons into text, making it easier for users to navigate the page. See how Confluence Editor is converted into a high-contrast mode to aid users:

Banner_Accessibility_addon

Transform the way your teams collaborate and build an inclusive digital workplace with Accessibility for Confluence. The app supports important accessibility requirements such as screen readers, high-contrast modeand improved keyboard navigation for Confluence. A barrier-free intranet is the first step to enabling an inclusive digital workplace.

While it takes time and effort to build an accessible digital workplace, every step counts.

Disability inclusion doesn’t stop at technology adoption, you need to create a culture of accessibility from the beginning. Start with addressing the impact of digital inclusion, then spread accessibility best practices so everyone can do their part in delivering better workplace experiences to their disabled peers, whether in the physical or virtual world.

Interested in inclusion initiatives? We are here to help! Meet our team of experts on accessibility requirements and implementing barrier-free digital workplaces.

Contact us to join the discussion and learn more about Accessibility for Confluence.

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