Achieving equality through accessibility

We have all grown up in a world where we focus on Human Rights, people have campaigned, wars have been fought all to ensure people are equal. In 1948, the international community agreed upon and signed a document called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaims that all humans are born free and equal, and possess certain rights from birth.


3d rendering of a group of white men excluding a red man

In the 70 years since the declaration was signed, we have seen many important changes of increasing acceptance of equality for women, non-white people, children, gay people and disabled people. Many international conventions build upon this such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). A highly significant document for people with disabilities is the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

• Every person has fundamental rights, and respect for these rights is the
foundation of inclusive development.

• Persons with disabilities should be aware of the rights they have
according to international conventions and national constitutions and
should be able to freely and independently claim their rights.

• Societies and institutions are obliged to protect and fulfill human rights for
persons with disabilities, including the right to education.

These issues have been written about extensively and there is certainly pace gathering to enable everyone to have the same rights, When we talk to people about accessibility and building a business case it’s all too easy to fall back on the Equality Act and tell people they have a legal obligation to ensure their digital media is accessible, but really the obligation is much deeper.

Women can vote, Non-white people are free and can sit where they please on a bus and gay people have recently won the right to why cant a disabled person access the internet to do their banking, find out about local services or shop online? Why cant a child who has sight issues or a reading impairment access the tools they need to study and sit exams? The technology is there, we all have an obligation to make it work within our organizations.

In the same way we all have a moral responsibility to ensure the rights of others are upheld, we must consider digital exclusion in the same way. Accessibility isn’t just something we do to meet a guideline or regulation, it isn’t just the job or responsibility of one person. It is at the very heart about giving a person with a disability the same freedom to access online services as non-disabled people.

  • Allowing someone to manage their finances independently
  • Letting someone do their food shopping at a time that suits them
  • Look for and apply for employment
  • Giving a child the same learning resources and books as their peers
  • Staying in touch with friends and family through social media
  • Playing games online
Digital inclusion children wearing Virtual Reality Headset

Digital inclusion children wearing Virtual Reality Headset

We all have a part to play to ensure that our actions do not adversely impact someone else. If you feel your team needs some help and support to increase their awareness of the part they play and start a discussion on how you can actively integrate accessibility into your organization our introductory training course, Web accessibility for managers can help.