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Breaking Digital Barriers to Promote Accessibility in Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month!

By: Skynet Technologies USA LLC
8 mins
500
Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

The term "developmental disabilities" refer to a person who has difficulties with cognition or intellectual development. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developmental disabilities are much more complex. The term "developmental disability" refers to a group of conditions. It is common for these conditions to arise before, during, or just after birth. They impact normal functioning and usually affect an individual throughout their entire lifetime.

In March, as we observe Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, it's essential to shine a spotlight on the digital barriers that hinder inclusivity for individuals with developmental disabilities. In today's increasingly digital world, access to technology and online platforms is more crucial than ever. However, for several people with developmental disabilities, these digital spaces often present significant challenges that can isolate them from important resources, information, and opportunities.

Let’s understand the significance of dismantling digital barriers to help website owners seeking to create a more accessible online presence.

Identifying the digital barriers that make the web inaccessible

The most common and significant barrier is the lack of awareness and apprehension of digital accessibility. If we ask ourselves what challenges a disabled person encounters while accessing a website, we would hardly be able to name a few issues or maybe none. The web page that appears normal for people without any disability, contains several issues for disabled users. And the only solution for this barrier is to educate ourselves and others around us on the importance of digital accessibility and how it can create a difference.

Another crucial facet is the implementation of accessibility standards. There are accessibility standards including WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) to ensure digital accessibility and their implementation is not a breeze. At times, developers/designers make mistakes while applying these standards, which doesn’t solve accessibility problems. Thus, for breaking down barriers in digital accessibility, correct guidelines implementation and thorough testing are important.

Also, if discrimination or biases dwell in an organization, it hampers both organization and a deserving individual (disabled) by achieving their respective goals. There are significant research data that shows discrimination against disabled individuals still exists and a colossal number of people struggle in various facets of life to get the opportunities such as employment. The number of unemployed people with disabilities was 21.3% in 2022 in the US because disabled individuals were less likely to be hired by organizations back then.

Though the numbers are improving, and disabled individuals are getting employment opportunities now, there is a huge scope for improvements to remove digital barriers.

Thus, it is high time now employers must recognize the potential of deserving candidates irrespective of their disabilities and hire them for value addition in organizational success and growth.

Important strategies to overcome digital barriers!

  • Prioritize disability inclusion

    Every citizen must get an equal opportunity to access all the services and experiences available. It is a social responsibility of organizations along with their personal benefits (increased conversions). Understand what the bottlenecks are, which facets require improvements, and work accordingly to improve accessibility. Correct initiatives are required to increase engagement of disabled users in the digital environment.

    Manual ADA Expert Auditing should be the first step to ensure the website’s accessibility. It helps identify all accessibility barriers that are the causes behind inaccessibility. Prioritize inclusive design by adhering to WCAG standards and offer seamless experience to all individuals.

  • Spread awareness through events and trainings

    Hosting an event and discussing more about accessibility along with its barriers is a beneficial way to generate awareness among people. For such events, organizations can collaborate with seasoned professionals to share valuable insights on accessibility.

    Moreover, formal training on accessibility for the workforce that are directly involved in creating digital solutions is crucial.

  • Publish accessibility policy

    Accessibility policy shows a dedicated commitment of the organization towards web accessibility. It not only outlines the organization’s goals, procedures, and guidelines to meet suggested accessibility standards, but it also covers the roles and responsibilities of people involved in maintaining the standards by addressing accessibility errors. Moreover, ensure that the accessibility policy is updated according to the latest guidelines available.

  • Utilize social media wisely

    Social media is one of the most powerful tools to promote any idea including accessibility. These platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. can be used to share resources, news, or any other relevant information on web accessibility. Don’t forget to use related hashtags to reach a wider audience.

  • Assistive technology usage

    Assistive technologies are required to offer accessible solutions to people with disabilities. Thereby the digital solutions ought to be inclusive and accommodating with all major assistive technologies available.

    Screen readers: Ensure that websites/applications are compatible with modern screen reader accessibility so that disabled users can read emails, document, and website content without any trouble.

    Speech recognition software: Individuals with mobility issues use such software to give commands and perform different activities like browse online content.

    Speech-to-text software: Disabled individuals use them to convert spoken words into digital text. These tools (software) must work with each digital product (website/application) available.

Developmental Disabilities and Digital Accessibility Solutions!

Increasing cases of ADHD, mental disorders and other disabilities make it evident that upcoming years will need more accessible digital solutions that can cater these individuals to fulfil their needs based on internet or online information.

Breaking digital barriers is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic move for website owners looking to reach a broader audience. By prioritizing inclusive design, conducting regular accessibility audits, and fostering a culture of accessibility, organizations can contribute to a digital landscape that is open, welcoming, and accessible to everyone. In doing so, they not only meet legal requirements but also strengthen their online presence and reputation in an increasingly diverse and connected world.

During Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, let's work together to make digital spaces more inclusive. Take the first step towards achieving accessibility compliance. With our Full Web Accessibility Audit Services, we will help you to identify the accessibility gaps in your digital product, service, and ecommerce stores, and provide a quick and cost-effective solution to make it an accessible and welcoming place for individuals with disabilities. For more information reach out to [email protected]