When did we become satisfied with only achieving the minimum? Shouldn’t we strive to provide excellence in business? Then why are we making things so difficult for so many people?
People with visual and cognitive disabilities often need an alternative to print materials. They also need a non-visual way to access your digital content. What are you doing to meet their needs?
It’s true; the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) only requires organizations to provide accessible material when a customer or their advocate requests it. And, in some cases, it makes sense to only produce your printed material in an alternative format when requested. (Think monthly statements or personalized content.) But, companies have standard marketing materials and other consistently produced documents that are relevant to all of their customers.
Create well-formatted, high-quality versions of your organization’s documents in formats that everyone can read. Implement all guidelines for digital compliance as opposed to the “accepted standard”. Exceed the minimum.
Why go to the trouble?
You’ve never had a request for braille, large print, or accessible PDFs. Your customers don’t need anything other than what you’re already providing, right? Well, probably not.
Let’s revisit this thought: You’ve never received a request for braille? Are you sure? How do you know? Take a moment to think about your answers. We’ll wait.
Now, I want you to consider your organization’s process for requesting braille. How would someone with a visual impairment ask your organization for an accessible version of your company’s material? Would they call their local branch or facility? Would the people at that location know how to pass a request like that to the appropriate people? Are there appropriate people to receive that request?
How does your organization keep track of requests for documents in alternative formats? Is there a company standard or do you just assume someone will tell you when a request is made?
If you don’t have definitive answers to these questions, you’re not even achieving the minimum.
What about your website, emails, and attachments or downloads? Are people able to use these in a non-visual way? Can people navigate your digital content with only their keyboard or do they need to be able to see where to click their mouse?
If you’re like many companies, you didn’t create your website. But, did you have a conversation with your website developer about making your digital content accessible to everyone? If not, why not? Should they have brought it up? Or, should you have taken the initiative to make sure you didn’t exclude anyone from your company’s offerings? (FYI — The responsibility to bring this up and follow through falls on you; not your web designers.)
Chances are, if you did have this conversation, you saw an increased price for your final website. Did you nix accessibility right then? Or, did you OK the line item because you were afraid of a lawsuit? Hopefully, you went the extra mile and made sure to include everyone; achieving at least the minimum. And, added bonus, if you initially included accessibility, you saved time and money!
Exceed the Minimum
We hope you’ve taken some time to reflect on yourself, your company’s accessibility efforts, and your desire to achieve more than the minimum. You’re ready to do more and include everyone. We’re so excited for you and want to help!
We have a few options we’d like to suggest.
Start working on an organization-wide system for requesting and tracking accessible documents such as braille, large print, and accessible PDFs. Create a way for your customers to easily request the formats they need and document that information so you can monitor trends and prepare for future requests.
There are a few avenues you can take when creating ways your customers can easily request documents in accessible formats. Some companies set up a toll-free number for people to call. Others advertise their alternative formats on their website’s home page with a link to an accessible form. Others publicize their accessible offerings on their social media channels. We like all of these approaches.
You should also have an accessibility statement on your website. This statement needs to contain contact information so people can report the accessibility issues they encounter. This provides yet another avenue that your clients can use when they need accessible materials.
So, you have your game plan in place for allowing people to request your documents in an accessible format. How do you fulfill their requests? We recommend shopping around and finding a document accessibility partner that fits your organization’s needs. We won’t bore you with the details here; there are other for that! You should check them out.
Don’t be satisfied with achieving the minimum; especially where your customers are concerned. It’s up to you to make a difference and determine here and now that you won’t be satisfied with achieving only the minimum. It’s up to you to provide excellence.
This post was written by Jessica Sanders.
Originally published at https://brailleworks.com on March 12, 2020.