10 easy steps to improve your corporate accessibility

Inclusion starts with accessibility, meaning people being able to actually access your company as customers, candidates, employees and partners. Read through for 10 simple tips on how to improve your accessibility standards company-wide

1. This is a hard one… But you need to reflect

Let’s start with the first thing that you, personally and professionally, need to do. It’s to reflect.

What privileges have you had in your personal and professional life, that have allowed you access?

Maybe it’s something visible, like your skin colour. Maybe it’s something non-visible, like how many books your home had when you were a child.

Maybe you immediately think of some things you don’t have privilege in: like a non-visible disability or neurodiversity.

But for many people, we navigate through life without realising that we have had advantages. Walking into a shop without the assumption by staff that we are shoplifting, walking home at night without having to worry about our personal safety, writing an essay in a school exam and finishing early… We all have our our privileges. By starting from a place of non-defensive reflection, we can open our eyes to the barriers that others may face and fix them as true allies.

Ok let’s switch into some tangible tips for improving your accessibility…

2. Colours

The colours you use in your documentation and language can affect the way someone processes the information, or simply their ability to read.

Did you find that hard to read? I’ll repeat.

The colours you use in your documentation and language can affect the way someone processes the information, or simply their ability to read.

Changing the background colour of your internal documentation (documents, presentations etc) as well as your website is a simple step to ensuring that everyone can easily read and absorb the information.

3. Font choice

Some fonts are really difficult to read. Like, we’re talking about those curly ones that are like over-exaggerated, Victoria-era handwriting. Don’t use those if you actually want people to be able to read. (Sans-serif is best).

4. Font size

And hey, while we’re on the topic of the easiest things you can do, make sure you use size 12 minimum (size 18 for presentations) font size.

Avoid these smaller ones.

5. One more in this vein… Italics

Italics are really difficult to read for some people, and also don’t show up on screen-readers (used by visually-impaired people) . So that sarcastic tweet you sent, made obvious by italics? Well, if someone is using a screen-reader, then the sarcasm is completely lost and sometimes changes the meaning so drastically, it makes you look… Let’s not go there.

6. Alt text and image descriptions

Alt text, which is a description of an image that you add into your code, and image descriptions, more commonly used on social media, both help people with screen-readers to access all your content – including images. It’s easy to add on platforms like WordPress, and if you can’t (like on some social media platforms), just write a description in the post. Easy.

jumbled, wooden scrabble letters close up
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7. Subtitles and video captions

Why are subtitles so important in meetings?

  1. If you’re hearing is impaired in any way, you might miss some words or nuances. Subtitles mitigate this.
  2. If you have auditory processing difficulties, relevant for many neurodiverse people or those with long-term health conditions, it can help to reduce the need for reptition.

How can you do this? Check if your video call platform offers captions, or a plug in to provide them. Also, have your video on for any lip readers out there. Some people might not be obvious lip readers, but they are. Google Meet has a captions option. Zoom does too. So does Microsoft Teams

Video captions are the same as above, and there’s some easy tools that can help you to add them. Just add them! Fun fact: they actually increase your engagement on social media – I know I look at videos on social media without the sound so I can listen to my favourite commuting playlist at the same time. If a video isn’t captioned, I am scrolling past it.

8. Hashtags… Yep, they’re inaccessible too

Let’s return again to screen readers and people who have difficulties with reading long and complicated words.

#accessibilitysquad isn’t accessible. Why? Because a screen reader (and some brains) read it like it’s written – accessibilitysquad. How can you avoid that? Just capitalise the different words (it’s called Camel Case if you’re interested). #AccessibilitySquad IS accessible.

9. Ok let’s talk about some place-based things… Lighting levels

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We all know office lights are terrible. They’re terrible. No one disputes this. Everyone looks sallow and washed out. Lighting levels can also act as an over-stimulant for some people, meaning they’re not able to do their work because of this glaring light that’s giving them a migraine.

Offering a change of desk space, a lamp on the desk or even *gasp* remote working, can solve this issue. Quick, easy, proactive inclusion.

10. And perhaps the most obvious and visible thing… Can physically disabled people actually GET INTO your building?

Hey, you know that step into your building? And the sign on the door that says “ask the receptionist if you need assistance”? People who can’t get past the step, can’t ask the receptionist… You get it. If this happened to me, I would be infuriated constantly.

Accessing the building itself, then a lift, meeting room etc… Being inclusive by design means that we don’t need to go back and spend more money to make this happen. But, if you’re in the UK and you have an employee that needs these kinds of accommodations, the UK government will pay for it. Uh-huh. Check it out here.

Done all this? Want to do even more?

These are only the basics of building an accessible and inclusive company culture. What can you do next?

Check out Bua’s Practical Guide to recruitment and digital landscapes here.

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