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Robert Pearson

  Accessible Media

10/31/2013

It Takes a Village: Spirit of Accessibility Implementation is in Collaboration

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Digital accessibility compliance requires a collaborative partnership between the consumer, business and IT resource for an organization-wide implementation, writes Robert Pearson.

It takes a village to raise a child - poster by Monica Stewart It's a phrase that is commonly used to describe how it takes many people sharing many shared responsibilities to raise a child. ‎Certainly that is true, but this phrase is also highly relevant when referring to the implementation of digital accessibility modules and regulations across the public and private spheres.  

A professional accessibility consultant will tell you that universal accessibility compliance simply cannot be achieved in a short time frame. Digital accessibility requires a change in mind set.‎ It requires that an organization work together to understand who their audience is, what accessibility needs they may have and how they can ensure that no one is excluded.   

Accessibility is a business decision. Whether it comes as a result of legislation, potential litigation or recognition that it is the right thing to do, it’s the customer facing side of the organization that concludes and internally requests the adoption of digital accessibility. Business further defines the manner which is deemed suitable to meet the consumers needs.  

Next, the IT department embarks upon the implementation, having worked collaboratively with the business to consider consumer needs in conjunction with available technology resources. As a result of this collaboration, members of the organization who will be responsible for an ongoing digital accessibility implementation will be located both within business and IT. They will share the same objective of achieving ‎inclusion for all consumers as they interact with the organization.

The IT department, though, does not hold sole ownership ‎over ongoing accessibility requirements. Once upon a time that may have been true in the age of implementation of Web accessibility based upon WCAG 1.0 guidelines. However, since the introduction of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines, the division between what is accessible and what is not accessible is no longer clearly defined.

  • Ongoing input from the business is required to ensure that objectives are being met and that proper testing on human intuitive elements, such as proper tab order and correct alternative description text, continues.

  • It is this collaboration of the consumer, business and IT resource ‎that will ensure that digital accessibility is being implemented efficiently and robustly across an organization.

  • Accessibility is a business differentiator. Those organizations who recognize it and provide it, will stand aside from their competitors who may not have yet become equally enlightened. 

Accessibility is a young discipline and its purpose and intent can often be misunderstood. It takes time to learn about its dimensions and how to support its evolution. We need to recognize that accessibility compliance guidelines can sometimes seem overwhelming as if it can never be fully and properly accommodated for. However, by ensuring that it is given proper attention – just as we would nurture a child’s growth - it will achieve its goals.

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Related Resource

Blog: Enforcing Accessibility Regulations: A Canadian Perspective | Read Robert Pearson's article.

Publications: CRPD 2013 ICT Accessibility Progress Report: G3ict and DPI Research Collaboration | View Report Summary

Event: ICT 2013, November 6-8, 2013 at Vilnius, Lithuania | View event details.