I am sharing a note in response to a request for my participation in a survey about people with disabilities in the workforce. Unfortunately, the survey was not all that accessible, usable or inclusive. Even the most well-intentioned advocacy groups and individuals promoting inclusion, seem to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to digital inclusion, leaving those of us who are blind or print disabled in the proverbial dark.
No worries my friend. I take the concepts of digital inclusion and inclusion in general to heart, perhaps too much so. I am not the kind of person who minces his words when it comes to being left out in instances like these.
The problem is twofold in my opinion. First, the types of survey platforms out there, which you used, as do our industry peers, are not accessible or compliant. This barriers to inclusion could be mitigated if we, users of these platforms advocating for inclusion, demanded that the manufacturers of these platforms follow the laws governing digital inclusion, or at least appreciated that inclusive digital design makes good business sense.
Second, we, as dedicated and passionate advocates for true inclusion must not ignore the hundreds of millions of people who are blind or print disabled, again, something that happens all the time in both my personal and professional experiences. If we want corporate America to embrace inclusion, I contend organizations advocating for inclusion must be above reproach, and intentionally and nonnegotiably walk the walk and talk the talk.
There are work arounds that My Blind Spot has designed with other organizations we work with like the G3ict/IAAP, where we are partnering to bring their digital platforms into conformance and compliance with the WCAG 2.0 standards, but more importantly, usable to people of ALL abilities. Enlisting the disability community as usability testers, perhaps you have access to a few through your University or through the Viscardi Center, would give you a clear understanding about how usable your next survey is or is not.
Again, in my personal and professional experience, we as movers and shakers working to make Ability part of our diverse society and mosaic that is America, fall short by not considering or including people who are “print disabled”. People with a print disability include those of us with any degree of sensory, mobility, cognitive ability or severely compromised learning abilities. And lest we forget, conditions that we acquire as we age. I have seen how the industry and advocacy groups unintentionally bar this community of people from accessing digitized information which is the cornerstone of the 21st century. These barriers are due to, in part, lack of understanding or expertise, coupled with a misunderstanding about the true ROI and how inclusive digital design just makes perfect business sense.
The face of the disability community is so diverse with a huge number of members, past and present, who made our world richer for their lives having been lived. People like Richard Branson, Cher, Einstein, Edison, Michael J. Fox,, Steve Wynn and all the graduates past, present and future of the Viscardi center. All of us in one way or another, rely on a variety of assistive devices and the digitized world, websites, mobile apps, software programs and all digital platforms, without exception, need to be coded to support our diverse group of movers and shakers too. I fear that if we continue to ignore the critical importance of inclusively designed digital platforms, and how access to digitized information and communications play a critical role in the successful attainment of all our goals, no matter how large or small, we might just bar that next great mind that could take us to infinity and beyond!
So, I think you get where I am coming from, and I am going to get down off my soap box. LOL. But before I do, I want to thank you for taking the time and interest in conducting this survey. , I wonder though, what type of results we would garner if we stepped outside the community of people who get it and invite responses from corporations struggling to move past their own antiquated perceptions on ability?
Peace and to be continued….
Albert J. Rizzi, M.Ed.
Albert is an international disability and civil rights advocate and the Founder of My Blind Spot, a 501(c)(3) organization that is dedicated to inspiring accessibility for people of all abilities. My Blind Spot also serves the corporate community as an expert accessibility governance adviser, reviewing and auditing corporate digital platforms assessing them for digital compliance to regulations governing inclusion, usability and accessibility for the disability community.