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Integrating digital accessibility into your DEI strategy isn’t going to be a “nice to have” for workplaces. It is going to become a must-have.

When thinking about the rapid changes in who we hire, how we hire, and the opportunities available, ensuring equal access for all in the workplace should be one of your major focuses. The necessity goes beyond lip service, websites and apps, or even a few training sessions here. The impact of your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives needs to be felt on a broader scale – including in your HR digitization initiatives. 

The importance of digital accessibility in the context of your DEI Strategy cannot be overstated, even if many don’t know how to do it. By embracing digital accessibility as an integral part of your DEI Strategy, organizations can bridge the digital divide, empowering individuals of all abilities and creating a more equitable and inclusive digital landscape.

Simply put: your DEI Strategy should be DEIA: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility.

To learn more about digital accessibility and your DEI strategy, keep reading. For those interested in a deeper dive, you can watch the on-demand webinar with our partner, Zenyth.


What is Digital Accessibility?

Digital Accessibility is the practice of making your digital content usable by everyone, including people with disabilities. Digital accessibility levels the playing field, breaks down barriers, and fosters a more inclusive digital environment. Whether it’s a website, mobile application, or other digital platform, ensuring that it can be navigated and comprehended by individuals with disabilities is not just a noble goal, but a fundamental human right.

In the pursuit of a digitally inclusive world, there are 3 key pillars:

  • Equal Access to Information: Ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can access and understand content on digital platforms.
  • Equal Opportunities for Interaction: Ensuring that everyone can consume and engage with the content through forms, purchases, or interactive features. 
  1. Inclusion in the Digital Community: Digital accessibility fosters a sense of belonging, allowing everyone to participate in online discussions, share their views, and contribute their unique perspectives. Inclusion makes individuals feel valued and respected.


Integrating Digital Accessibility into your DEI Strategy

Integrating digital accessibility into your organization’s overall DEI strategy is crucial as it impacts all aspects of the business, beyond just customer-facing elements. Part of your DEI strategy should include ensuring accessibility in the employment process, marketing, and product development.


1. Ensuring Accessibility in the Employment Process

Creating an accessible employment process is a vital part of your DEI strategy. It creates an environment where everyone, regardless of their abilities, can engage, contribute, and grow. It allows individuals with disabilities to participate and perform effectively. An inclusive and accessible employment process invites a broader range of candidates, sets the tone for their experiences in the organization, and reflects your organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

To ensure your employment process is accessible throughout recruitment, onboarding, and career development, these four things are crucial. 

  1. Ensure online systems are compatible with assistive technologies. This includes application processes, onboarding systems, and training platforms.
  2. Provide materials in alternative formats, either plain text or PDFs that are compatible with assistive technologies, such as job postings and descriptions, training materials, organizational policy guides, and information on accommodations.
  3. Offer accommodations as needed. Information on how to request accommodations should be made clear, along with providing contact information. Some examples include providing alternative methods for submitting applications or completing tasks, sign language interpreters or personalized coaching and mentorship initiatives for career development.
  4. Proactive Communication: It’s important to communicate your commitment to accessibility through statements in job postings, ensuring recruiters and hiring managers are trained on accessibility and accommodations, and ensuring the path to promotion is transparent and ensures equal opportunity for all.

A part of your DEI strategy should include updating all policies, communications, and resources surrounding accessibility within the employment lifecycle. This shows a commitment to diversity and inclusion that goes beyond compliance.


2. Ensuring Accessibility in Marketing Processes

Ensuring your marketing initiatives are accessible is another way to integrate digital accessibility into your DEI Strategy. Accessible marketing is the use of inclusive design practices that make it possible for users of all abilities to fully experience the company’s brand, receive and understand communication, and take advantage of opportunities to engage with and become fans of the brand, services, or products.

Creating accessible marketing materials and websites is not just about reaching a wider audience; they’re about creating engaging and equitable experiences. Your marketing should meet the needs of various disabilities, including impairments in mobility, vision, hearing, speech, and cognition. For example, hearing-impaired individuals require captions for video and audio materials.

Some best practices to ensure digital marketing accessibility include:

  • Alt text on images: Adding alt text to all images allows them to be read by assistive technologies, such as screen readers. You can do this by adding descriptive values in the image alt attributes, adding descriptions in the surrounding text of an image, or aria-labels on image links.
  • Coding for screen readers: HTML and PDF tags are required for screen readers to present content. These tags include markup for headings, lists, and tables. Additionally, for forms, accordions, and slideshows, JavaScript must be coded accessibly in order for screen readers to interact with the elements.
  • Video captions and audio transcripts: Adding captions and/or audio descriptions allows hearing-impaired individuals to understand video or podcast messaging.
  • Text contrast: Users with color contrast deficiencies cannot perceive text that does not provide sufficient color contrast and will struggle to interact with buttons for a call to action.
  • Keyboard input: the website or application should prioritize a well-defined and logical keyboard navigation order. Ensure that all interactive elements and functionality can be used without relying on a mouse or similar pointing devices, making it possible for individuals with motor disabilities to fully engage with content.


3. Ensuring digital accessibility in Product Development

Integrating digital accessibility into product development is a strategic alignment with your DEI strategy. Designing products that are accessible to all ensures that you cater to a diverse customer base. Here are several best practices to achieve digital accessibility in your product development process.

  • Prioritize Semantic HTML: Using semantic HTML elements helps assistive technologies, like screen readers, understand and convey the content accurately. Avoid relying only on CSS and JavaScript for functionality and presentation.
  • Provide Alternative Text: Similarly with marketing elements, alternative text is just as crucial for all non-text content in the development process.
  • Regular Accessibility Testing: Integrate accessibility testing into your quality assurance processes by using automated testing tools and manual tests performed by individuals with disabilities. Performing accessibility audits throughout the development lifecycle helps to catch and address issues early. 

Similar to marketing processes, your product should be keyboard accessible, implement responsive design, and provide captions and transcriptions for any audio and video content within the product. Remember, integrating digital accessibility into your DEI strategy is not just about expanding your reach; it’s about creating products that resonate with the values of inclusivity and accessibility.

In the pursuit of an inclusive workplace and customer experience, the recruitment and onboarding processes, marketing and website content, and product development are critical touchpoints in integrating digital accessibility into your DEI strategy. Maintaining accessibility in the workplace is not a one-time effort; it’s a continuous journey. Our partner, Zenyth, is committed to supporting organizations in this ongoing endeavor, ensuring that accessibility remains at the forefront of the workplace experience. Reach out to Zenyth to provide a website audit, and assist in creating accessible media, design, or development.


Miranda Knudtson

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