What is Digital Accessibility in 2022?
Making the world a more accessible environment for all is something that we’re particularly passionate about as Speech Pathologists. From access to communication tools like AAC through to Digital Accessibility, there is a lot to consider in creating accessible digital and physical experiences.
On Thursday May 19 2022 we’re celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day, with this year’s theme focusing on Digital Accessibility. If you’re new to the topic or are just curious to know our thoughts as health professionals, keep on reading.
What is Global Accessibility Awareness Day?
Global Accessibility Awareness Day (known as GAAD) was founded by a web developer named Joe Devon, and an accessibility professional named Jennison Asuncion. Celebrated annually on the 19th of May, GAAD is a day to learn and reflect on how we can make the world a more accessible place.
This year is the 11th annual celebration, and the theme is Digital Access and Inclusion. With more than one billion people with disabilities/impairments that impact their online experiences, it’s certainly time to make changes to create more enjoyable and accessible digital experiences.
What is Digital Accessibility?
Digital Accessibility is the process of removing barriers that may prevent a person from being able to engage with digital content effectively. These barriers can be anything from font size to the structure of a webpage not being readable by screen reading devices.
Barriers to Digital Accessibility can also be the way in which content is being delivered (videos without accurate closed captions) and the platform being used to share or engage with content (images on social media not having alternative text descriptions).
When it comes to the numbers, there are around 18% of Australians who have a disability and some of those disabilities will impact how they interact with technology. It’s been reported that there’s a digital inclusion gap for people with disabilities in Australia that hasn’t improved much since 2014.
How Does a Lack of Digital Accessibility Impact People?
A lack of Digital Accessibility can be distressing and frustrating for people with disabilities and impairments. Without access to certain websites or digital tools, it can make things like booking appointments, requesting support, enjoying entertainment and enquiring about services very difficult.
Digital Accessibility can be improved with the help of skilful website developers and helpful accessibility tools like plugins. For example, when on the SpeechEase website you’ll notice that we have a square wheelchair icon in the right-hand side of the screen. When clicked, you’ll be able to adjust our website settings to suit your needs – including the font size, website colours, etc.
Although there are a wide range of options to make websites more accessible, poor digital design can reduce the effectiveness of the assistive tools and limit a person’s ability to interact with content in the way they want to.
How Can I Support Digital Accessibility?
No matter what you do for work or in the community, you can make a positive impact on Digital Accessibility. If you know someone with a website for their business or job, ask them to explore Digital Accessibility options available to them. If you’re in the health profession like us, consider what you can do to better support your community in creating accessible experiences both in-person and online. That includes Telehealth!
If you would like to learn more about assistive technology, particularly for communication access, we would love to share our passion with you! Take a look at our article on AAC (assistive and augmentative communication) to learn all about the different options available for people with communication difficulties.
*This information is general in nature.