Inclusion and Digital Innovation: How to conquer them in 3 steps

A decade ago, the American developer Joe Devon published a blog in which he pointed out the need to incorporate digital accessibility and proposed the Global Accessibility Awareness Day. His proposal was accepted and that is why we annually celebrate it on the third Thursday of every May.

People with disabilities are the most minority group in the world. On average, most disabilities are acquired in adulthood, continuing until later in life. This very special group is important to companies and the economy in general, as workers who can alleviate the talent shortage and as consumers representing revenues of 13 trillion dollars a year.

Typewriter for a blind woman, email service for a deaf-mute couple, and remote control for a man with reduced mobility are some of the ways that people with disabilities have driven technological innovation.

However, disability is not yet a priority on inclusion agendas. Although most companies advocate for diversity, only 4% of them execute these initiatives. At the 2020 Job Restoration Summit organized by the World Economic Forum, June Sarpong, Director of Creative Diversity at the BBC, commented on “the mild intolerance of low expectations” towards people with disabilities, as society does not expect much from them and therefore minimizes them.

People with disabilities face many obstacles to access the labor market, the consumer market, and the digital world. An analysis of the most important websites in the world found that 97% of them were not technologically friendly for this sector of the population. This has become a legal matter, as more than 3,000 lawsuits have been filed for lack of web accessibility in 2020.

Doubling the inclusion of people with disabilities in jobs represents a great growth opportunity. The specialists indicate 3 ways in which companies can functionally include disability to improve their future and expand opportunities:

  • 1. Incorporation of universal design

Companies must integrate the knowledge of people with disabilities into their products and services, from design to launch. By pushing for more universal designs that benefit everyone, companies will advocate for new accessibility features.

For example, Spotify changed the color of its format to make its user interface more accessible; TikTok introduced automated captions that generate themselves, and Netflix has descriptive audio narratives in its content.

Apple released new accessible features, including a background noise feature that minimizes distractions from external noise, in support of neurodiversity, and the Sign Time service offers sign language interpreters for Apple Support customers.

  • 2. Create equal avenues for opportunity

The global employment rate only covers half of the adults with disabilities. Companies must break down barriers in their recruitment, hiring, and career advancement processes because they undervalue these individuals or limit their opportunity to showcase skills. Accessibility to the job offer must be guaranteed and options offered in the common style of evaluations such as the in-person interview.

Entering the job market can be very challenging for people with autism. 35% of adults with this condition are university graduates, but they are part of an unemployment rate that exceeds 80%. Companies like Microsoft are making the change with specific hiring programs designed for diverse neuro subjects.

Changing the standard hiring process would allow candidates to apply via email and skip the telephone selection. They could also be given a practice interview to get a pre-assessment from the recruiters or let them code using their laptops instead of on a whiteboard.

  •  3.- Create inclusively and empowered work environments

Only 21% of workers feel confident about disclosing their disability at work. The reasons range from avoiding teasing from peers to avoiding rejection of their ideas by bosses.

Workspaces must guarantee a “psychological safety” that allows each worker to be the same, without experiencing the risk of censorship or harassment. Management must ensure that their team feels comfortable expressing their opinions and being appreciated for their unmatched contributions.

In 2019, the World Economic Forum launched The Valuable 500, the largest network of CEOS in the world, which is committed to making inclusion a tangible reality in the private sector.

We believe in diversity of talents, equal opportunity, and heavenly empathy. The members of eSmart Recycling are learning, as workers and human beings, the blessing of having a work environment where all abilities are valued.

It has been a long road of education and restructuring, but the goal is being achieved: A plural world that can be uniquely beautiful for everyone.

Source:

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/3-ways-disability-inclusion-can-shape-the-new-decade-of-innovation/

Carmen María Cermeño
Carmen María Cermeño

Journalist/ Digital Curator

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