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Robert Pearson

  Accessible Media


The Mandate of a Chief Accessibility Officer

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On December 2, 2014, I was appointed to the position of Accessibility Officer with Accessible Media Inc. (AMI). Being an uncommon and rare position title within any industry, I would be interested to take this opportunity to highlight the purpose and objectives of my new mandate.

Image: As AMI's Accessibility Officer, I would like to focus on delivering accessibility across all media platforms 

Image: As AMI's Accessibility Officer, I would like to focus on delivering accessibility across all media platforms.

Accessibility is a young industry and practice, yet it has gained ever-increasing prominence as it has evolved, not only in the Global North but around the world. In recognition of this, some organizations with a deep understanding and established implementation of services to support the needs of persons with disabilities have made the decision to create a senior management role with a mandate focused solely on that of accessibility.  

Not only is accessibility a concern in the provision of customer service to an organization’s clientele and in the business that the organization conducts, but it is also a concern internally to ensure that the employees of that organization can perform their roles effectively and inclusively, regardless of their abilities. These two facets are the focus of where my attention will lie, under the new mandate I have been given.

Accessibility across all media platforms:
At AMI, we make media accessible to all Canadians, while was also working to grow and evolve the practice of doing so internationally. To that end, within the context of my new role, we want to focus on delivering accessibility across all media platforms by identifying and building relationships with individuals and organizations in the development and promotion of industry standards and best practices for Described Video, Web and Mobile accessibility. We will work to establish these relationships by developing a presence at industry events either through sponsorship, speaking opportunities and collaborative efforts with other organizations.  

We will continue to work closely with our federal communications regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), in the continued development of the industry adopted and AMI-led Described Video Best Practices processes as well as through other federally guided initiatives. Through these, we will provide guidance on accessibility to our industry partners, while also interacting with the wider community through social media and other mediums. We will also work to continually promote AMI Original Programming from our three broadcast networks while promoting and supporting diverse initiatives related to accessibility.  

Most importantly, beginning 2015, we will begin to conduct an internal audit of all ICTs that are in use within our organization. The intent of this review will be to determine the inherent level of accessibility within each technology. Following that, we plan to engage vendors of these technologies to develop their understanding of accessibility and promote its inclusion in future version iterations, if it is not already present.  

Accessibility is a business differentiator:
Businesses are beginning to recognize that an offering of inclusion can set them apart from their competitors in the provision of their services.  By building upon this recognition, a mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and the clientele that it serves is certain to evolve.

disability as a driver of accessibility

Read: Disability as a Driver of Accessibility

In support of this, professional, technical and legislative regulations, standards and practices are themselves continually evolving to strengthen an understanding of accessibility to ensure that it is no longer seen as an addition to a business process, but rather as a component of that process itself. We aim to seek out and support development projects on emerging platforms and technologies as they impact media accessibility. This support will also come through participation in industry guided initiatives such as the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP). It will also come by building alliances with leading service providers of accessible media, to assist with enhancing their offerings through the establishment of partnerships and knowledge sharing activities.

Every individual has the right to inclusion in consuming all forms of media. Based upon our experiences in providing these services over the last 26 years, we are in a position to lead and continue to grow the practice of providing media accessibility to the global audience. We also understand that in creating a role focused solely on driving forth our efforts on accessibility, we must ensure that our internal environment is as equally, if not fully accessible, as the external environment that we serve and operate within.

If you have any questions about the objectives of AMI in the creation of this role, or if I can provide any further clarifications, please don't hesitate to contact me.


Related Resources

Blog: Predicting an Inclusive Future | Read Robert Pearson's Article

Publication: Model ICT Accessibility Policy Report - an ITU-G3ict Publication | Download Free PDF.

Event: ATIA 2015 Conference - Orlando, FL, United States - January 27-31, 2015 | View Event Details.