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Robert Pearson

  Accessible Media


Your Accessibility Business Plan

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Accessibility and serving the needs of persons with disabilities are both practices that don’t require special accommodations, rather, they are part of the process, writes Robert Pearson.
To be accessible and inclusive, is in many cases, a competitive business differentiator
Image: To be accessible and inclusive, is in many cases, a competitive business differentiator.

Education drives process innovation. It facilitates an understanding that accessibility and serving the needs of persons with disabilities are both practices that don’t require special accommodations, but rather¸ components of the process itself or the way in which business needs to be conducted.

Understanding the needs of your audience and knowing how to provide inclusive solutions to meet those needs will create a culture of compliance within an organization. Having executive buy-in and championship to support that understanding is essential. One of newest industry trends being ushered in by inclusive-minded organizations is the creation of an executive level position focused solely on the provision of both internal and external accessibility requirements.

Technology fuels business process and as a result it also creates the greatest barriers in terms of inclusion. Through an analysis of the systems utilized to fulfil business goals, in conjunction with a similar focus on the technologies used by consumers to drive the achievement of those goals, technology-driven assistive solutions may be developed.

Quite some time ago at Accessible Media Inc. (AMI), we recognized that there was a need to provide the Original Programming that we were produced in a digital and online format. This content has always been created by trained producers who understand the ins and outs of embedded description, thereby ensuring simplicity of its delivery in a digital format.

However, what acted as a technological barrier to launching that content online was the player or wrapper for the content itself. We spent a year-and-a-half creating the fully accessible AMI-player to overcome this issue, anticipating the needs of our customers and in the achievement of the executive championship supporting an adoption of accessibility in this regard. 

Now in 2015, AMI's focus is about to shift to additionally important technological barriers within our industry, primarily the inaccessibility of the consumers digital set-top box. To that end, there is one instance where this need has been acknowledged and addressed, beginning a year ago, with an announcement at the CSUN Conference 2014 in San Diego: Comcast offers a digital set-top box that is highly accessible to the consumer and which provides voice interaction.  

The problem though, from a general industry perspective, is that the solution is unique to Comcast. A consumer must be a client of Comcast in order to receive this accessible cloud-based solution, therefore limiting its usage by the widest possible audience, which in itself creates a technological obstacle to overall inclusion. Furthermore, Comcast does not exist in Canada and therefore our local market has no access to this type of solution.

In addressing technological inaccessibility, AMI works not only to promote and support inclusive solutions to drive our own business process innovation, but also to guide the industry as a whole towards mainstreaming media accessibility. Knowing your audience and defining solutions to meet their needs becomes the backbone of any effective accessibility business plan.

Those who may have been classified as persons with disabilities or those who may require services that differ from the norm are a cohort of consumers that is ever increasing in size. Consider that this part of the population will continue to age and the number of those with vision limitations will begin to increase dramatically. Educate your organization on what it means to adopt accessibility. Accessibility is not a one-off, nor is it a project with a definable beginning and end. Will your organization be prepared to meet that demand? Start now by establishing executive leadership to support accessibility.


Related Resources:

Blog: An Accessibility Bill of Rights for Digital Inclusion | Read Robert Pearson's Article.

Publication: Making Television Accessibe to Everyone | Download Free PDF.

Event: eAccess 15 Conference, February 24, London, UK | View Event Details .