Accessing Accessibility to be Truly-Inclusive
'Diversity and Inclusion' has become a commonplace term in our society - it comes up when organizations want to build a better workplace culture or want to stand out as a brand that represents all. There is a long way to go in this journey on many fronts be it gender, caste, LGBT community or Persons with Disabilities (PwD) which barely get due attention. There is a huge education gap in our society where accessibility as a theme is not talked about enough or taught about in educational institutions, in spite of the fact that PwDs make a 1Billion+ community in our world. This number is even larger if we include the family members of the community, as their lives also get directly affected. The lack of conversation amongst our leaders on accessibility leads to two broader concern areas - it prevents any serious engagement on accessibility from society beyond the feeling of empathy and pity for the affected people and as a result, prevents any constructive action taken in the space.
In my little experience of being in this space - I observe the mammoth opportunities that lie in front of us, some of which include making our physical infrastructure more accessible and finding out through an accessibility audit which doors or washrooms in our building need an update. In the world of digital where businesses run online, we find that very few websites and apps include accessibility features before launch - directly excluding a part of the audience from the opportunity. In order to build better products and better culture, we need more employees with Disabilities working with us. For this, is to be a possibility, efforts have to be made to influence their hiring, for jobs across all teams. Organizations that do stellar work in this space have included the community itself in the process of learning the 'Whats' and the 'Hows' of making their space more accessible and hence, have been able to drive meaningful action. They get the best product testers for user feedback and directly lend an ear to the community to learn how they want to be supported - they unlearn a lot to learn much more.
As we take our next steps towards building an inclusive world, we need to develop the perspective of thinking for everybody - the goal that we must strive for. It is not a victory until everybody gets to see the last mile.
Author: AasthaKapoor, Champion, Disability Chapter.