It’s National Inclusion Week (NIW): an entire week dedicated to spreading awareness and celebrating the importance of inclusion and diverse workplaces. This is the tenth edition of NIW and it’s incredibly encouraging to see different organisations come together and pledge to work towards something we care deeply about.
There’s something different about this year’s theme. While previous years’ themes were more about raising awareness and initiating conversation, this one feels like a call to action. It’s especially fitting for a milestone tenth year: we’ve ideated and discussed, now it’s time to act.
It’s easy to preach the importance of inclusion—indeed, one would be hard-pressed to form an argument against it. But taking action? Well, that’s much harder. Inclusion isn’t something that just happens on its own; it’s something we need to advocate and implement.
As an organisation focused on making digital experiences better for everyone, taking action for change is a message we wholeheartedly endorse at User Vision. Apart from constantly striving to be a more inclusive workplace, User Vision’s goal in terms of our deliverables is also focused on inclusivity by making the web a more accessible place. With a dedicated accessibility team, we ensure that our clients’ projects go above and beyond in providing people of all abilities an accessible and enjoyable experience online.
I’ve been seeing more organisations taking the effort to make sure their services are accessible. I’m aware that, more often than not, accessibility might not have been something to consider until publishing an accessibility statement became a legal requirement. It could almost be seen as a form of virtue signalling. Yet, I think this sort of performative activism still works because of how decades of research have gone into making accessibility an objective goal.
While we at User Vision truly believe that accessibility is more than checking off a list of WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) criteria, the fact remains that without this list, accessibility would have been a subjective field where no one would have to take accountability. Creating a standardised list for web services to adhere to, along with a legal framework, ensures that by meeting the exact specified requirements, digital services would be rendered that much more inclusive.
Creating objective goals for accessibility also allows the importance of the message to trickle down (a rather loaded term, used here only in a completely literal sense) the organisation. Accessibility might have started out as a last-minute addendum requiring people to go back and make corrections. A few iterations later, it would become natural for these requirements to become part of the development process itself. Later, it becomes an important part of the organisation’s structure—almost akin to a naming convention. As more organisations follow suit, knowledge of accessibility becomes a skill worth having. Soon enough, students are learning more about it at university as an integral part of their course.
(Which, coincidentally, is how I found out what this field had to offer in terms of a career!)