Sunday, October 20, 2019

Accessibility Isn't A Nice to Have. It's A Must Have.

In her book, Haben Girma, the first deafblind student to graduate Harvard Law, explains her frustration with not being able to access the cafeteria menu at her college. Like most humans, Haben loves delicious food. Fighting for this access was part of her inspiration for later pursuing her law degree.

It's surprising that large food chain like Domino's pizza, doesn't get that everyone, including those with disabilities, want access to the food they find delicious. 
Three plates with people holding pizza in their hands

The Domino's Decision

Fortunately, the  U.S. Supreme Court understands this. Their recent decision to not hear Domino's petition on whether its website is accessible to the disabled is a win for everyone who believes in inclusivity. While Domino's, and some other retailers, consider this a loss, their view is short-sighted.
  • First, it's a terrible look from a public relations perspective to take a stand against providing access to your goods to those with disabilities. 
  • Second, it's a terrible business decision to cut off the largest minority community in the world, those with disabilities. 

Accessibility on School Websites

Retailers are not the only ones being sued for not providing accessible content. The largest school system in the nation, the New York City Department of Education has an agreement with the Office of Civil Rights to ensure all websites are accessible. More and more schools should anticipate being the focus of increased scrutiny and challenges to the accessibility of their websites. Failure to do so can have devastating consequences. These include costly lawsuits as well as possibly losing millions of dollars in federal funding. 

Fortunately, most school staff are excited to discover ways to learn how to include more of their school community into communication.

Preparing for Accessibility

To prepare and respond accordingly more and more businesses and government agencies are creating digital content with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines in mind. This means they provide training and support to staff to ensure they understand how to do this.  

Accessibility isn't just the right thing to do, it also makes content better for everyone. Doesn't it make sense to invest time and money into making content better and available to those with disabilities rather than investing time and money into lawsuits?

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