Digital accessibility and inclusivity for all

Digital accessibility and inclusivity for all
May 20, 2021
Our work ensures that people with disabilities have equal access to information, services, and features when using technology 
Technology plays a major role in our daily lives. Accessing online forms, gathering information from websites, viewing virtual presentations—these tasks may seem routine. But for people with visual and hearing impairments, these actions often include barriers to digital access. Global Accessibility Awareness Day reminds us of the importance of digital accessibility and inclusion for all.

While producing accessible electronic materials is the right thing to do, it’s also often legally required.

“In the U.S., Section 508 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that states that members of the public who have disabilities should be able to access the same information and services from federal agencies as individuals who are not disabled,” explains Liz Faucher, a senior compliance specialist with our marketing engagement and experience agency ICF Next.

User experience manager Jolie Dobre, also with ICF Next, adds, “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are part of the guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium, the main international standards organization for the internet. They are a set of recommendations for making web content more accessible, primarily for people with disabilities—but also for all users.”
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"We ensure the important public health, education, policy, and environmental messages we craft for our government clients are accessible to users with a range of disabilities." — Liz Faucher

Moving beyond remediation

Some of the most common barriers are found on websites. Low-contrast text, missing image alt text, empty links, missing form input labels, empty buttons, and missing document language. These are all the basics of accessibility remediation
However, our accessibility capabilities stretch beyond remediation. Materials and platforms must work with assistive technology and screen readers. Public videos should have closed captions. Web conferences should have the option to include live captioning. Our solutions include specific practices to ensure keyboard accessibility; tips for compliant use of color; guidance for effective, descriptive text and compliant audio and visual content; and techniques to support usable reading order and navigation.   

A holistic view  

Our accessibility professionals specialize in the design, development, and testing of products, devices, services, and environments to ensure that they are usable by people with disabilities.  

“Developing and Testing Accessible eLearning Courses” is a framework developed by a team of accessibility and user experience experts, Jolie, Aruna Kedarshetty, and Lisa Mayo. It also won Best Paper at the ICT Accessibility Testing Symposium.

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This framework takes a holistic view through six stages: plan, analyze, design, implement, test and integrate, maintain, and plan. What makes it special is that it includes accessibility professionals to guide and inform development activities at each phase of the process.  

“Our framework accents the inclusion of accessibility standards throughout the development lifecycle. Rather than simply testing, it builds accessibility in, rather than testing violations out,” Jolie shares.  

And it’s that spirit of inclusivity behind our work to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to information, services, and features when using technology products.