Accessibility’s Importance Rises

Every business today needs workers and customers, but in many cases, corporations can present an unwelcoming environment to a large number of individuals. Enterprises need to take a closer look at how accommodating they are to people with disabilities because they represent a large and vital part of their potential workforce and client base.

Businesses build physical and virtual workplaces where employees, customers, partners, and suppliers interact. In constructing such venues, managers often focus on issues like the location’s size, the cost per square foot, and the various amenities needed to conduct operations: conference rooms to hold meetings, computers for employees, and websites to support the enterprise.

They often neglect to examine how accessible these places are to everyone. One reason is that accessibility is a broad term. It refers to how something is designed and can be used, reviewed, read, and accessed by others.

Many individuals live with various impairments and need special accommodations. The needs go beyond the traditional supplying wheelchair access ramps and braille signs and nowadays include how a business presents its online marketing materials. In many cases, firms do not make themselves accessible to all.

So, how can an organization close such gaps?

Increase Awareness

Many corporations do not know where they fall short of meeting all individuals’ accessibility requirements. Therefore, the first step in the process for management is to understand what obstacles people with disabilities encounter. Since companies often lack that expertise, they turn outside for help.

Accommodation specialty consulting firms are emerging. They understand what hurdles people experience and what needs to be done to close the chasms. Their services often start with a site audit to ensure the facility complies with regulations. Recently, they added items, like disability awareness consulting and policy development, steps companies take to create a more inclusive culture.

Since this is a corporate initiative, accessibility awareness needs to permeate throughout the organization. Training programs open employees’ eyes to the challenges that people with disabilities face and provide Dos and Don’ts when supporting them. Disability awareness firms also work with company task forces to put checks in place to ensure that the organization complies with the law and implements accessibility best practices so all individuals truly feel welcomed and part of the team.

Create a Clearer Visual Picture

Most businesses provide visually oriented-products or service materials. In fact, product and service delivery usually requires that customers interact with various documents. Individuals need to be able to examine a menu, read a specification sheet, and sign a contract. As a result, enterprises need to ensure that people with visual impairments can interact with such materials. A few steps to take include:

  • Having braille and large print copies of menus and other types of business communications.
  • Providing accessible electronic documents, like accessible PDFs, which comply with federal regulations.
  • Offering users an audio or live reader copy of all statements, documents, and contracts


Build Accessibility into Your Business Processes

Improving accessibility is a journey and a process. Technology will evolve, laws will be passed, and additional insights will be gained that will need to be integrated within your organization. Therefore, corporations must weave an accessibility mindset into the corporate fiber. If a new piece of technology or a new business process is created, they automatically account for any possible accessibility implications.

The Business Case for Improving Accessibility

So, why should a company be concerned about this? One reason is that disabilities (visible and invisible) are very common. In fact, one in four U.S. adults – 61 million Americans – have a disability that impacts major life activities. Companies that ignore this population segment leave out many potential employees, clients, and partners, which can impact revenue growth.

Accessibility is the Law

The federal government passed several laws outlining what companies are obliged to provide regarding accessibility. A few such laws are the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

While many businesses are familiar with federal laws, the US Supreme Court also issued a decision that had a major impact on virtual interactions. In essence, the court ruled that any digital platform has to meet accessibility standards. The case involved a Dominos mobile application that did not include screen-reader software, which provides oral descriptions of onscreen images.

This legal landscape is complex and ever-changing, so businesses need to be proactive. Periodically, they should consult with a lawyer who specializes in disability and accessibility to make sure that they comply with the latest rulings.

Impact on Reputation

Consumer and business purchase criteria have been changing. Historically, the focus has been on lower pricing and better features. Nowadays, what a company stands for is increasingly essential in purchasing decisions. Brand reputation and recognition are hard to build but easily destroyed. A business does not want to be trending on social media because of its failure to provide accessibility to everyone. Such a situation could damage the brand so significantly that it never recovers from the incident. Instead, the company wants social media to note its inclusiveness and how it makes its services available to everyone.

Just Do the Right Thing

Building facilities and software that are accessible is just the right thing to do. Preventing people from purchasing products or using services is an example of prejudice; no company wants to be associated with that term.

The value of establishing a diverse workforce is becoming more critical now. That mindset promotes inclusion and fosters collaboration. Also, employees like to come to work: the emphasis helps to create a culture where everyone feels valued, and talents are recognized. In this case, workers perform better, make better decisions, are more engaged, and stay longer. As a result, the company becomes stronger: organizations supporting and advocating for people with disabilities are more likely to outperform their competitors financially.

Businesses have often inadvertently created environments where individuals with disabilities do not feel welcome. The enterprises need to recognize the problem, call in experts, and engrain an accommodations mentality into their corporate DNA. By taking these steps, they become a more welcoming, friendly place and a stronger entity.

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True Synergy, Inc