Happy Friday! My thoughts twirl around the upcoming presentation I have in September. I will be speaking to a group of small businesses about digital accessibility.
I am debating on whether or not to have a PowerPoint presentation.
Everything I want to say and share I know in my heart and mind.
What is the message? Simple. Ask them if they are aware what digital accessibility is. Make sure your website is accessible to your visitors. How do you know? Test it. How? Ask your web developer. They don’t know – then educate them. That is where it is our responsibility in the small business community to make sure all the key players involved in making a website ensures it is digitally accessible.
What got me going on this journey as a speaker to talk to the small business community? When I started looking into it – there is enough speakers out there talking to large organizations about digital accessibility. Big companies have to ensure that their websites are accessible because they want to show that they are diverse and inclusive organization. For companies in European companies, they have to because it is law also. (that is another discussion for another day.) There’s enough speakers talking to the education system. The government and educational systems in the United States HAVE to be digital accessible by law.
But who is talking to small businesses?
There was a comment made, who shall not be named, that digital accessibility was not a bandwagon . . . to jump on to.
Let’s take a moment, dear reader. Think about who you work for. If you work for a public sector, ok. You probably have heard all about digital accessibility because as I stated earlier – you are bound by law to meet the ADA and Section 508 compliance. If you are in the private sector . . . listen up.
I am not the type of person that is going to use fear to get people onto the so-called digital accessibility bandwagon. I would rather inform from other viewpoints, for example – transcripts for the deaf – can benefit your website by boosting its search engine optimization. Proper use of headings, sections and structure is simply good design which equates to good user experience which provides digital accessibility, i.e. screen readers.
However, the misinformed, thinking that the digital accessibility as a bandwagon that they don’t need to be bothered with, are going be woefully in for a big surprise down the road. Here’s what is happening that many do not see in the news, simply because it is just not big news. Lawsuits against companies for inaccessible websites are on the rise. In one year alone – there was over 30% increase of lawsuits on inaccessible websites. (from 2017 to 2018) Go ahead, “Google” it – ADA lawsuits on the rise for inaccessible websites.
It is forecasted that those lawsuits will continue to rise. For those thinking that it only impacts big companies. No, I hate to inform you, small businesses are now starting to get hit with these lawsuits. The typical businesses that are affected are those who are service types industries – think restaurants as an example. Financial businesses is another. Employment companies.
The older I get, the less tolerant I am of obstacles that stand in my way. The younger generation coming up behind me are less tolerant as well. Don’t believe me? Get on Twitter and follow some of them. They are way more vocal than I was at their age. They are more technologically savvy. They are not going to put up with any digital barriers . . . period. Whatever misconceptions you have of “disabled” – it is time for you to work on your bias. They do not belong in this time and age or in the future.
Sure – there are other ways we can “address’ this issue when we come across a website that has a barrier. Believe it or not, coming from my own experience – I can’t speak from others – but I do reach out to let them (said company) know that I need 1) captions or 2) transcript and could they provide me or provide it for their deaf visitors? Do you know what I get about 98.9% of the time?
This is 2018. With all of the digital advancements that we have today (virtual reality, driverless cars, AI) . . . no response. Nada. Zilch. Pin drop silence. (funny, I should use those words, eh? Since I am deaf, after all.)
My choice is either go somewhere else (which is what most will do)
Or I can raise a big stink about it. A real big one.
Or I can sue you for having inaccessible website.
Or do what I am doing. Informing the small business community of the obstacles – not just for the disabled, but for everyone.
So, tell me. Do I need a Powerpoint presentation or not?