Digital technology as an enabler for inclusion

by | Nov 6, 2023 | Ability News, Accessibility, Disability Community, Disability Sector, Government

In today's digital age, technology has the remarkable power to be a great equaliser. It’s the critical enabler allowing People with Disability and other marginalised and diverse groups to participate fully in the digital world.

Australian Accessibility Conference co-hosted by and Perth Web Accessibility Camp in February 2020, where the amazing keynote speaker was Tatiana Mac (Photo Source: Alex Norton for OZeWAI)

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The growing Australian professional membership organisation (along with the global accessibility community) is making this future a reality. OZeWAI has a vision that Australians with disability can enjoy, benefit from, and participate fully and equally in the digital economy in accordance with their human rights and Australian law.

I’m Bri Norton, co-chair of OZeWAI, and I have a few tips and tricks to share with Ability News readers on how to be more digitally inclusive:

1. Understand how people use the web:

  • The W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI): strategies, standards, resources to make the web accessible including lived experience stories.
  • Screen readers: For those with visual impairments, screen readers like Narrator, VoiceOver or NVDA can read aloud the content on websites and applications.
  • Voice recognition software: Voice recognition tools, such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking or built-in options like Voice Typing in Google Docs, enable hands-free computer operation, benefiting people with mobility issues.
  • Captioning and subtitles: Adding captions and subtitles to multimedia content makes it accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing, and it also aids those learning a new language or watching videos in noisy environments.

essibility experience station signs and technology, including a keyboard, magnifier and some stickers, the ozewai sign and website are shown in the background

OZeWAI set up an accessibility experience station at the Web Directions Summit held in Sydney to demonstrate the different assistive technologies tools available to users (Photo source: Charissa Ramirez)

  1. Customise your digital devices and environment:
  • Adjust accessibility settings: Many devices and operating systems offer accessibility settings that allow users to tailor their experience. This can include adjusting text size, enabling high-contrast modes, and configuring keyboard shortcuts.
  • Use browser extensions: Web browser extensions like Accessibility Insights, Grammarly, and color contrast analysers can optimise the experience for various people with disability.
  1. Prioritise inclusive research and design:
  • Learn about and ask for tools and sites that meet accessibility guidelines: Familiarise yourself with the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines provide a framework for making digital content accessible.
  • Research and test your website or app: Utilise online tools and collaborate with People with Disability who use different types of assistive technology to evaluate the accessibility of your website or application. This ensures that you reach a broader audience.
  • Don’t use click here: Describe your links (even in emails), so users know where the link is taking them to. Use #CamelCase for your #HashTags so screen reader tools can read the individual words and limit your emoji use.
  1. Advocate for inclusion:
  • Raise awareness: Share information about the importance of digital inclusion and accessibility settings with your friends, family, and community.
  • Support accessibility initiatives: Encourage businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies to prioritise accessibility and inclusive design practices, such as working and collaborating with People with Disability.
  1. Stay informed and engaged:

In our fast-changing digital world and as we experience a growing ageing population that has more temporary or permanent disabilities, it’s not just the right thing to do—it’s also the law to make technology accessible for everyone. Plus, it’s a smart business decision, ask yourself, why would you want to exclude 20% or more of your potential market? 

By using these helpful tips and ideas and keeping inclusion in mind, you can make the most of technology to create a fairer and inclusive world for everyone.