Webinar led by Jason Corning, Blog written by Trudy Suggs.
Ensuring Your Brand Is Accessible
Much talk has been about making your platforms and brand accessible, but what does this mean? How can you make sure every person can access what you offer? Let’s take a quick look.
We often think of people with disabilities when we see the word “accessibility,” but is accessibility only for people with disabilities? Not quite. According to SeeWriteHear.org, accessibility is “the practice of making information, activities, and environments sensible, meaningful, and usable for as many people as possible.” In other words, accessibility is when everyone can access something on the same level in the same amount of time without frustration or dependence.
Why Should We Care About Accessibility?
As Jason Corning, a DeafBlind entrepreneur, shared in a recent CSD webinar; a business should want the customer experience to be the same for everyone. He noted that companies lose millions of dollars annually in accessibility not for providing accessibility but for failing to provide accessibility. Preceding only a few thousand dollars to ensure full access can easily translate into millions lost through lawsuits against businesses.
Aside from legal mandates in place, such as Section 504 and 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, the fundamental reason for providing accessibility is simple: it’s the right thing to do. A business is inclusive, humane, and intelligent by making sure every individual is equally included. This significantly expands the business’s market reach, potential revenue, and social responsibility reputation. On top of that, there are many tax benefits to providing accessibility.
So How Do We Do This?
A tough question is how to ensure accessibility for everyone, especially with such diverse needs among people, disabled or not. For instance, one person might prefer dark mode on a computer or mobile device, while another might prefer light mode. Personal preference is a significant component in customer service for any business, including accessibility needs.
Corning emphasized in his webinar that the best option is to establish parameters that allow people to decide for themselves. He cites captioning as an example of autonomy: when captions are burned into videos online, viewers often cannot adjust the captions’ formatting, such as font, size, or even color. Additionally, YouTube’s auto-generated captions often overlap the included captions, making the content even more difficult to view.
A better solution is to provide transcripts along with captions that can be user-controlled in terms of formatting and appearance. There are many online resources, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provide recommendations on ensuring your digital brand is accessible to everyone.
Another common obstacle for people with disabilities is timed passcodes or security checks. An emergent trend is to use two-factor authentication on websites, which has security benefits. However, when websites put time limits on how long a security code will be effective, this creates obstacles. For example, people who are DeafBlind or have physical disabilities may find it physically challenging to toggle between screens to retrieve passcodes from their emails or texts and then return to the original security screen only to see it has expired.
There are countless ways to ensure that your brand is accessible, but the best way is to directly ask people, especially people with disabilities, what they prefer. Incorporate WCAG measures, research what you should do, and, most importantly, walk the talk. Don’t just say you provide accessibility; implement specific accessibility measures and inform the community about it so they can fully use your content.
By making your brand accessible, you can ensure the same user experience for every individual, the ultimate achievement for any business.
For more tips and ideas on how to make your brand accessible, view Jason Corning’s webinar:
About Jason Corning:
As the founder and CEO, Jason established Three Monkeys Communication in mid-2018 and Mizaru in early 2021 with the mission of breaking down communication barriers for people with disabilities. Jason, deafblind since birth, resides in Wisconsin. Jason attended the Wisconsin School for the Deaf and later transferred to the Wisconsin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, where he received his high school diploma. Jason was active in a variety of school sports, such as wrestling, swimming, track and field, and goal ball. Moving on from high school, Jason majored in Information Technology, receiving a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Wisconsin. To further his interests and achieve his goals while working for the federal government, Jason pursued an advanced degree graduating from Johns Hopkins University with a master’s in Information Systems. Jason strives to make positive impacts on the DeafBlind community. He applies his knowledge and expertise by serving and chairing government advisory boards offering advice on how the government can better serve people with disabilities. He enjoys coaching and teaching at all levels, including experience as a college-level lecturer. Jason works from home managing his own company Three Monkeys Communication, and Mizaru.