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Robert Pearson

Accessible Media

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Predicting an Inclusive Future

Organizations working with digital services and products need to work towards full-scale accessibility - and not just piecemeal accommodations, writes Robert Pearson. 

fortune teller

Image: Accessibility is not a one-off event.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a masquerade. One of the features of the evening was a fortune teller. Tucked away in a corner of the room, people were lining up to have their fortunes told. I must admit, I was among them. Why not see what the crystal ball has to say?

What if a purveyor of digital content took the time out of their day to do the same? Find out what the future holds if accessibility is not considered! Could it be possible? Following on the same theme of the woman that evening, there are standard answers that could be provided. This might even be a business idea.

  • You will exclude the largest possible audience of your online consumers.
  • Some technologies may not render your content correctly.
  • The community may recognize your inaccessibility and put you at fault for it.

At this stage, let’s look at individual or customized predictions based upon the organization seeking to have their fortunes told. For instance, there are legal regulations in some regions that require some websites to adopt a certain level of digital accessibility compliancy. If legalities become a part of the discussion, then the need for accessibility becomes a much more important component than it might for marketing or IT. It also becomes regulatory in an effort to accommodate for that uncertain future, the one you cannot predict, where any user out there can become the catalyst for vast changes, if compliancy does not become a priority.

"A culture of compliance at the organizational level is necessary if accessibility is to be treated as more than mere accommodation"

One of the ways to circumvent that is to establish that culture of compliancy within the organization. Another step stems from the recognition that accessibility is not a one-off event. It is an ongoing journey where one may never reach that utopian level of accessibility compliancy, however the effort to get there will have been taken. In order to sustain it though, we need to consider adopting a new and revised digital strategy that puts accessibility compliancy at the forefront in everything that is undertaken in a digital sense by an organization.

At Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) we have for the last many months being doing specifically that. We live in a glass house with the word accessibility in our name and everything we do works towards our mandate of making media accessible to all Canadians. For years though our focus has been on that of broadcasting and only to a minor extent on digital. That is changing fast as we launch our accessible media player and a second website for our third broadcast offering called AMI-télé, which is a duplicate of AMI-tv, but in French, Canada's other official language.

AMI is also expanding and enhancing its social media offerings to support these services and others, and we are considering mobile offerings in the future. As such, we require a detailed digital strategy to ensure accessibility across all these mediums, which will begin to be adopted in late 2014. A plan of approach is required to ensure that an accessibility culture becomes a standard business practice internally and not some one-off event.

As for the fortune teller that evening, I found out a few weeks later that she was in fact a fake. I learnt a good lesson though: never believe that you can predict your digital audience. We will all be persons with a disability at one point in our lives, who will be asking our digital content services providers why they believed that they didn't need to consider accessibility.


Related Resources

Blog: A World of Access for the Widest Possible Audience | Read Robert Pearson's Article.

Publication: Making Television Accessible to Everyone: Accessible Media Inc. & the Canadian Experience | Downloand PDF.

Event: G3ict Partners with OCAD University's DEEP 2014: Designing Enabling Economies and Policies | View Event Details.


Related Items:

• The Archimedes Project


• Digital Inclusion for a Better EU Society

• The Disability Inclusion Initiative Employment Sector (July 2009)

• UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Address

• Inclusion International 16th World Congress, Nairobi, Kenya

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