To celebrate the the seventh Global Accessibility Awareness Day, CBM is launching its digital accessibility toolkit with a selection of tools and recommendations pertaining to the accessibility of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
What’s the purpose of this toolkit?
CBM’s approach is based on the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and on CBM’s responsibility to promote accessibility and the principles of universal design in all spheres of its work, including CBM’s digital content and communications. With this toolkit, we want to provide a guide and practice resource to people working with and for CBM so that together we produce accessible digital content and communications, and place accessibility at the centre of our Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) procurement processes.
The toolkit contains a selection of tools for producing accessible content in electronic documents, videos, figures and tools to ensure web accessibility. It also provides tools and information for accessible ICT procurement including tips and resources on how to communicate CBM’s accessibility requirements for products and services being purchased; and how to evaluate what providers promise and deliver.
What does digital accessibility mean?
Accessible ICT means that everyday technology, including digital content, is usable for a wide audience. Digital inclusion benefits everyone to participate on a more equal basis and to contribute to the economic, social, cultural, and political lives of their societies.
In the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), accessibility is recognised as a vital precondition for persons with disabilities to participate fully and equally in society, effectively enjoying all their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Governments, civil society organisations, and the private sector have a key role to play in ensuring that accessibility is not an afterthought but a central component of their work including core systems and programmes (CRPD Article 9 on accessibility and its further guidance in the CRPD general comment number 2 on accessibility (2014).
Information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, have been defined as an integral part of accessibility rights and fundamental to ensuring that persons with disabilities can exercise their right to freedom of expression and opinion. This includes the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice (article 21). The CRPD also recognises the importance of promoting the concept of universal design (article 2).
Without this, international development and humanitarian frameworks such as Agenda 2030, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the New Urban Agenda cannot be achieved. For example, accessible technology in humanitarian action can facilitate persons with disabilities and other groups in society, for example older populations, to access and share information, and to both provide and receive support in a crisis situation.
Read more about CBM’s accessible smartphone app – “Humanitarian Hands-on Tool” – which provides step-by-step guidance on how to design and implement an inclusive emergency response
Do I need to be an IT expert to make digital accessibility happen?
Reliance on digital media, digital products, and the Internet to engage in daily activities such as banking, communicating, and accessing information, is increasing. Digital accessibility is a crucial levelling mechanism to ensure timely and equitable access to education, jobs, and services to persons with disabilities. Increasing technology also brings the means to remove barriers for a wide range of users around real time texts, screen readers, and applications to support people who need memory aids or support to live more independently.
Considering and including accessibility from the beginning is cheap and essential to avoid procurement and design mistakes. Consulting with persons with disabilities and conducting usability testing with a diverse group of participants is critical to understand what the problems are. Users have clear expectations about their needs and preferences, and what they like and what they want to avoid. Therefore, checking in with users on a regular basis is key to ensure that accessibility is maintained over time.
Most problems are easy to fix and relatively cheap. Common accessibility errors include missing alternative text for images, poor colour contrast, and making important information hard to understand and to find. Nowadays there are numerous free online and built-in tools and resources that can help with creating, making and procuring digital accessible content and products.
Did you know you could use the Accessibility Checker on your computer desktop to find accessibility issues?
Very often, simple tips can make a huge difference when creating accessible documents. For example, larger fonts and left aligned text are easier to read while busy layouts and dense text are difficult to read. Clear structure in web pages and documents makes them easier to navigate. Images should include descriptive alternative text and language should be simple.
At the end of the day, accessibility benefits everyone and is everyone’s responsibility.