What is Digital Accessibility?

Posted by Trakstar • March 21, 2023 • 6 min read

Does your workplace prioritize digital accessibility? To be completely digitally accessible means that your online environment is equally accessible for employees and job seekers. In a remote and hybrid world, we have to think about things we haven’t before, particularly with things like hiring, training and development, and performance management.

Instead of thinking about digital accessibility as something to overcome, it’s essential to think about the benefits of building your talent management program with it in mind. When you do this, you’re helping your employees have access to better materials to help them develop, and you’re creating opportunities for people who have been previously overlooked.

While we don’t know what the future of work looks like and whether the shift away from remote work is permanent, digital accessibility is always going to be important as we rely more on digital means to do our jobs, nurture our talent, and just run companies.

What is Digital Accessibility?

It’s important for HR leaders and people leaders to understand that digital accessibility isn’t just a “workplace” thing – it’s a movement that’s important to many people and institutions, including public education, private schools, and more. For most HR leaders, you need to think about digital tools and how they can be made more accessible. 

Technology has closed many gaps in our world, but digital tools can create problems of their own. Everything you make needs to be done with accessibility in mind. Failure to do this, especially in the workplace, can mean that your company is out of compliance with the American Disability Act (ADA).  

Definition of Digital Access

There are many definitions of digital accessibility floating around, but the most commonly quoted comes from Georgetown Law. According to them, it “refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, digital tools, and technologies, by people with disabilities.” 

Digital Accessibility Standards

The standards for digital accessibility have been laid out pretty thoroughly by the ADA. Most often, we think of those standards are precedents for things like parking spots, elevators in office buildings, or a lack of promotions for an employee because of a disability.

However, people leaders need to be aware of digital accessibility standards covered by the ADA, including (but not limited to) things like using closed-captioning on all videos, implementing transcription services for meetings, providing reading materials in alternative formats, and so on. 

If you’re looking for a good resource, take a look at the Web Active Initiative – Accessibility Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA). While HR leaders shouldn’t use this as a legal resource, it is a great starting point.

Digital Accessibility in the Workplace

Remember that many, many people are living with a disability – including disabilities that you can’t always see. Things like dyslexia, mental health conditions, cognition, and Autism are all invisible but can impact how someone interacts with training materials, hiring workflows, and even performance management. People who are living with disabilities are less likely to find employment that fulfills their lives out of no fault of their own. Remember that a disability isn’t always a permanent condition, and two out of every five adults will likely need accommodations to do their jobs successfully. 

It is best to eliminate barriers to digital accessibility before they even come up. Try to caption videos, provide recordings with audio and visuals, or more.

How Digital Accessibility Helps Employers

Digital accessibility is an important undertaking for many organizations because it increases the wealth of talent you can have in your organization, and it helps others embrace diversity. There are other benefits as well, including:

  • Company culture
  • Employee engagement
  • Brand Awareness
  • Employee morale
  • Productivity
  • Creativity

It might seem difficult to be more accessible within your organization, but it can impact your overall success long-term. Partnering with a talent management tool can make this process easier for everyone.

If you are thinking about making your entire process more manageable, eliminating bias, and making things more accessible, consider scheduling a demo of Trakstar today.

How Can HR Promote Digital Accessibility?

Digital accessibility is something everyone needs to worry about and take care of, but HR should be the leader of those efforts. If you are looking for ways to promote digital accessibility, start here:

Walk the walk when it comes to accessibility. When designing courses for training, onboarding programs, hiring workflows, and performance management systems, walk the walk. Ensure that everything is accessible to your current workforce, and try to plan for the future. Create materials and content that can be customized and adapted to the needs of employees you might have in the future.

This may take some trial and error – there are going to be accommodations you won’t know you’ll need to make, and that’s okay. Approach everything with an open mind and be as compassionate and empathetic as you can.

Talk about accessibility.

Don’t think that your accessibility needs to be behind closed doors. Use inclusive language, talk about changes you’ve made so that things are more accessible, and highlight alternatives that people may want to use. If there is closed captioning on something, point it out. If you have a visual aid for training, ensure everyone has access to it.

Another thing you want to do is provide sensitivity training and talk about things like microaggressions and bias. Your voice is one of your most essential tools to increase awareness about digital accessibility and make people feel more comfortable and accepted in the workplace.

Encourage employee feedback.

Running an engagement survey anytime soon? Create a feedback loop with leaders that encourages employees to say what they need. Even if they want to be anonymous, asking people about accommodations they may need and then acting on that feedback is imperative.

Let employees know that you are open to creating a better environment for them, but you need to know something exists. It’s important to note that not all employees will feel comfortable revealing their needs – they’ve likely been treated badly before. Let them know that if they do tell you something, it is completely confidential, but ask for anonymous feedback as well. Some things may not necessarily be covered by ADA laws, but they would still make people feel more comfortable.

Ensure Your Workplace is Digitally Accessible to All Employees

Despite the strides we made working remotely over the last few years, there is still quite a gap with digital accessibility. HR teams need to work with the C-Suite and managers to ensure that there are tools, processes, and standards in place to level the playing field for all employees. Accessibility isn’t something that you can do once and have it be “good enough.” Every day, you need to think about what’s helping your employees and what’s holding them back.

To start creating more inclusive hiring processes, training, or performance reviews, consider scheduling a demo of Trakstar today!

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