Accessibility and EqualityPublished on
- Accessibility and equality are closely linked because accessibility ensures everyone receives equal treatment from organizations.
- Accessibility is essential for independence, health, and safety.
- Provide a variety of accessible options for your customers; everyone’s needs are different.
What is accessibility?
When you think about accessibility, what comes to mind first? Do you think of accommodations in public places like wheelchair ramps, elevators, and specified parking spots for people with physical disabilities? While those are definitely a part of it, there is so much more to accessibility! Accessibility also includes access to information. By law, people need access to certain communications in a format they can understand. Things like financial information, consent forms, healthcare documents, and insurance information are just a few examples of communications that need to be accessible.
Why is accessibility essential for equality?
Did you know accessibility and equality are closely tied?
Information and communications need to be accessible to ensure equal treatment for everyone. Unfortunately, inaccessible documents compromise the privacy and independence of people with disabilities. But, the good news is that your organization can prevent this by offering accessible formats.
How can you, as an organization, make these communications accessible? It’s easy! Offer alternative options of your standard text documents to your customers. Braille, large print, audio, and accessible PDF are commonly used formats that are accessible to people with disabilities. Keep in mind, every disability is not the same so it is important to have a variety of accessible options from which your customers can choose.
How accessibility impacts people
Let’s look at visual disabilities to better understand accessibility and equality. Did you know that 54% of people with visual disabilities are unemployed? Additionally, when children with visual disabilities don’t have access to the materials they need in schools, they can’t receive an education equal to that of their sighted classmates.
Fortunately, now, there are laws concerning accessibility and equality in schools, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Braille literacy is a great example of accessibility and equality. Only providing audio formats of books and other materials isn’t sufficient. Sighted children learn to read and write in school, and so should children with visual disabilities. Learning to read and write braille means children with blindness have the same opportunity for expression and independence as their sighted peers.
Deafblindness is a condition that affects both a person’s hearing and sight. When you think about deafblindness, Helen Keller is probably the first person who comes to mind. While she is likely the most well-known person with deafblindness, there are many people living with this condition.
According to the World Federation of the DeafBlind, around 2% of people worldwide live with deafblindness. While some are born with deafblindness, others experience a gradual loss of their hearing and sight as they age. Hearing and vision loss levels vary among people with deafblindness.
With that in mind, it’s critical to avoid viewing accessibility as one-size-fits-all. The needs of people with disabilities are not the same for each person. So, providing multiple alternative formats of your plain text documents allows your customers to choose the format they are most comfortable with. If you aren’t sure how to accommodate someone, just ask!
Why accessibility matters to you
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 2.2 billion people worldwide live with a visual impairment. That number will likely continue increasing. So, it’s likely that some of those people are your customers. Many factors contribute to the rise in visual disability cases, including aging and diseases. You can show your customers that you care and stand for accessibility and equality by providing them with documents in a format they can understand.
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