By Rachel Collins, Colt’s Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Today marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD): a worldwide event that gets everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion.
When mentioning accessibility, many people think about removing physical barriers. When so much of our world is digital, it is crucial to understand that accessibility applies to digital spaces just as much as physical spaces. Imagine one day turning on your computer to read the news but all the text is in the wrong order, or vast sections of an article are missing.
Research by the GAAD Foundation found that over 98% of the home pages they checked had at least one inaccessible feature. What impact does this exclusion have on the one billion people worldwide who live with disabilities? When digital spaces are inaccessible, there is a genuine risk that some people cannot access them properly, leading to exclusion and feelings of alienation.
We need to think about how some people consume content. If someone uses a screen reader or speech output system to interpret a web page and the basic code behind that page has been manipulated, to them, the content can appear in a nonsensical order or even not at all. While this may be invisible to non-disabled people, it is a daily reality for many and is far more common than one might think.
Here at Colt, we have championed GAAD over recent years to raise awareness, and this year we want to show how we’re taking action. I want to update you on our five-year Accessibility Roadmap that ensures Colt is an equitable, accessible and welcoming company to interact and do business with. Digital accessibility is a huge part of our plan, alongside strategies on the built environment, processes, communications and employee and customer journeys.
Colt’s Accessibility Roadmap – Optimising Accessibility
The input and feedback from those most impacted by a lack of accessibility are crucial. We consulted with our Disability Accessibility Employee Network (DAN) to hear what they thought of our digital spaces and, since then, have embedded feedback mechanisms into our main sites. We consulted with external specialists to understand where we could improve. The culmination of these insights is how we created our roadmap with the goal of Optimising Accessibility – our mission’s name – over the next five years.
There are five areas of focus:
Strategy & Governance
- Focusing on reporting, policies and building accessibility into our supply chain
- Building accessibility into recruitment, onboarding and development
Awareness & Skills
- Engaging everyone and developing key skills for specific teams
Brand & Reputation
- Creating accessible content and removing barriers to key audiences
- Incorporating accessibility into our customer journey
You can download and read Colt’s Accessibility Roadmap 2023 in full.
We fully acknowledge that our road map isn’t perfect yet, and we’ve got a long way to go, but we’re excited to embark on our journey and invite you to join us if you’d like to learn more.
In the spirit of collaboration, I’d love to hear about your inclusion journey too. I have learned so much while putting this roadmap together and would love to speak with others about their experience of digital and physical accessibility. Why not continue the conversation with me on LinkedIn?