Sustainable. Achievable. Scalable. Crafting accessibility initiatives that are sustainable in every sense of the word
Despite the numerous challenges that the world has faced this year, there still have been many noteworthy advancements in accessibility initiatives that we can be proud of:
- Mainstream technology continues to add more and more assistive features.
- Much thought has been given to improving the accessibility of hybrid work by design.
- Live captions are increasingly ubiquitous and platform-agnostic.
- It’s never been easier to check the accessibility of your documents without specialized expertise.
Although digital solutions are making leaps and bounds in creating accessibility-centric solutions, we still have a long way to go. As we approach Purple Light Up 2022, let’s look at how to can create successful, sustainable opportunities for disability inclusion in 2023.
Since the word “sustainable” means different things to different people, it’s important to examine every angle of sustainability in order to ensure the success of your accessibility initiatives.
1. Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level
As accessibility practitioners, we must ensure our work is systematic, maintainable and well-resourced to ensure that our efforts do not unravel at a later date. Our knowledge processes and systems should be built and improved regularly, and continuously monitored for possible enhancements over the long term.
2. Able to be upheld or defended
By aligning with established programs and ways of working, we can eliminate the friction of delivering accessibility. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we must approach accessibility as something that is embedded and integrated into in our existing programs and processes. Only then will it truly become an accepted part of the corporate culture.
3. Conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources
Accessibility can be understood within the context of a company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts, and it is an important aspect that touches each one of these three topics.
Social: Be inclusive by design.
Disability inclusion is clearly a social topic. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has 11 references to disability, and five of the goals (4, 8, 10, 11, 17) specifically call out disability inclusion topics. For organizations looking to adopt these goals, inclusion must be embedded in an organization’s corporate values and raison d’être.
At Atos, we believe in inclusion by design and that initiatives that omit disability are inherently exclusive. We do not hide behind acronyms and metaphors, but purposefully follow the UN guidance on language and models of disability.
Governance: Create frameworks that work!
Managing topics such as disability inclusion and accessibility in large organizations with complex portfolios and partnerships requires strong governance. While an accessibility operational steering committee may help with reporting and coordination, we go one step ahead.
Running an accessibility program is like an exercise in plate spinning. There are so many aspects to keep moving that, — without a robust framework to bring everything together — you could find yourself running from one urgent issue to the next without the time to be strategic.
Creating a robust framework will enable you to delegate responsibilities while ensuring that activities are transparent and well-coordinated — and keeping contributors connected and motivated. There are three important steps to follow:
1. Designate a single point of contact (SPOC) for accessibility and disability who can support and take responsibility for the initiative in their business area.
2. Drive cultural change and make open conversations about disability part of corporate life. At Atos, our in-house Atos Adapt network has been instrumental in helping senior executives bring their energy and influence to support the network and act as role models.
3. Develop a program that celebrates champions, their uniqueness and their skillsets. At Atos, we created a structured program to spread knowledge about accessibility into all areas of the business, including training and recognition.
Environment: Reduce consumption, reduce impact.
While most of the activities of enterprise accessibility programs are focused on social and governance topics, accessibility also intersects with environmental topics. The right eco-design can also incorporate inclusive and accessible design elements. Eco-friendly design can help reduce resource consumption (energy and ink) while improving accessibility with more legible fonts and stronger color contrast, as we did for the refresh of the Atos branding.
In our latest submission at the ICT 4 Inclusion Challenge, Atos partnered with GIZ, Zero Project, Ability Foundation and Ashoka to reduce the impact of climate change on older and disabled people — who are often disproportionately affected by disasters and omitted from risk reduction plans.
How you can create an accessible value chain
When we address exclusion and inaccessibility as an externality in the same way we treat carbon emissions, we can plug into a conceptual and organizational framework that enables adoption and progress at scale. Just as forward-thinking organizations assess the upstream and downstream carbon emissions from their supply chains, there is a similar model for accessibility, depicted below.
Only by quantifying the direct and indirect impacts on accessibility can we have a long-term influence on the value chain.
If you are ready to move forward and create a more inclusive, accessible world for everyone, we’re ready to help. Contact us today to learn how, and let’s make this happen together.