How is COVID-19 Impacting Digital Accessibility?
A Deque Systems survey and report launched in partnership with the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) and G3ict Research.
In partnership with the IAAP, Deque surveyed accessibility practitioners from around the world on the impact COVID-19 is having on employees and customers with disabilities, as well as on their organization’s accessibility program and testing efforts.
As the world has become increasingly impacted by the COVID-19 virus, an emphasis on digital accessibility is becoming more necessary. Navigating these changes and delivering up-to-date information to employees and customers is paramount for businesses to effectively perform their daily functions and keep people informed of any changes to operations.
The results of this survey provide insight into the level of awareness surrounding the digital channel and digital accessibility. In turn, we hope these results will help organizations highlight priorities to ensure equal digital access to employees and customers with disabilities at this critical time.
Deque and the IAAP surveyed 292 accessibility practitioners during the months of March and April 2020. The survey consisted of 15 multiple-choice and 2 open-ended questions that were collected via Survey Monkey’s online survey platform. Answers were solicited by both parties through email and social media.
Individuals who took the survey varied in job roles, industries and organization size. The majority of respondents reported their role as “accessibility specialist” (58%). The industry representing the most number of respondents was Education (33%).
Overall, the results indicate an increased awareness around the digital channel and accessibility.
Heightened awareness around the digital channel and accessibility.
83% of all respondents said that “COVID-19 has raised the profile and importance of digital channels for their organization” and 62% reported that “COVID-19 has raised the awareness and impact of accessibility on the digital channel.”
COVID-19 creates opportunity to spread accessibility across teams.
With attention drawn towards digital channels, now may be a good opportunity to spread accessibility across different facets of an organization, when teaming up to meet demands on the digital channel.
Increased volume of work forces teams to adapt and work together.
A majority of respondents (90%) also predict that they will see either an increase or no change in their volume of work over the next three months at the time of taking the survey (i.e. April/May through June/July).
Heightened awareness may indicate an opportunity to devote more resources towards accessibility. This is supported in a number of open-ended responses:
“ I’ve seen a significantly increased level of integration of accessibility information and services into University communications and tips for online teaching during COVID-19.
“ While COVID-19 has presented many challenges, it has also enabled us to acquire additional accessibility tools in direct response to COVID-19 and establish a centralized captioning fund to faculty/staff.
“ With the shift to remote work and offering online courses only, this has raised the importance of having an institutional level electronic information technology accessibility policy.
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