The Digital Accessibility Journey: Exploring Priorities and Investments in Aus and NZ organisations

The Digital Accessibility Journey: Exploring Priorities and Investments in Aus and NZ organisations

Executive summary

According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, access to information and communication technologies – including the internet – is a basic human right. At least it should be, especially as society continues to live and work in a digital world, accelerated significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But in the rush to get online over the past 15 years, accessibility has not always taken its rightful seat at the table. Many people have been left behind in an increasingly digital world – people with disability making up a large proportion.

In Australia, one in every five people have a disability, while in New Zealand the number’s one in four. This scale shows that Digital Accessibility is simply non-negotiable if the benefits of a digital era are to be available to all.

A growing imperative

Digital Accessibility includes everything from designing websites and documents that can be read by screen-readers, to providing subtitles on audio-visual media. Across the globe, strides are being taken to embed these solutions into all communications.

The New Zealand Government recently announced plans to establish a new ministry for people with disability and introduce an Accessibility Act into Parliament. Australia’s federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 already requires government agencies to provide equal access to information and services.

But not all organisations are putting Digital Accessibility into everyday practice. In fact, this research found that only 3% of organisations in Australia and New Zealand are meeting Digital Accessibility standards in all of their employee and customer facing digital assets and services.

So what’s holding us back?

In this report, Infosys examines the progress being made in Digital Accessibility among enterprises, public sector and not-for-profit organisations in Australia and New Zealand. To bring this research to life, we sought advice from accessibility organisations, including the Australian Network on Disability, the Centre for Accessibility Australia, Intopia and Vision Australia in Australia, as well as Accessibility Tick and Access Advisors in New Zealand. This advice combined with qualitative interviews with leaders responsible for accessibility in organisations helped us to construct the research questions. We surveyed more than 670 organisations (570 in Australia and 100 in New Zealand) to understand where they are on their Digital Accessibility journey, what routes they’re taking, what barriers they’re facing, and what advice they might have for those just starting out.

Key findings

Most organisations are on the journey

  • 8% Emerging: Organisations yet to begin their Digital Accessibility journey, with no or very few elements in place
  • 40% Explorer: Organisations with established Digital Accessibility foundations starting to build momentum
  • 49% Adopter: Organisations with Digital Accessibility embedded within processes and culture, but with room for improvement
  • 3% Trailblazer: Organisations consistently achieving Digital Accessibility standards for customers and employees

The graph represents the different phases organisations are in along their digital accessibility journeys in Australia and New Zealand.

The graph represents the different phases organisations are in along their digital accessibility journeys in Australia and New Zealand. View accessible version of the infographic.

The graph where organisations are in their digital accessibility journeys from least to more advanced.

Almost half of the organisations we surveyed (49%) are in the Adopter phase of their journey, with Digital Accessibility strategies and processes already in place.

The next biggest category (40%) belonged to Explorers – organisations which are in the early stages of their digital accessibility journey, but with some Digital Accessibility pillars in place.

Just 3% of organisations are Trailblazers – in other words, well ahead of the curve – while 8% of organisations are considered Emerging, with no or inconsistent progress.

It’s also worth noting that:

  • New Zealand organisations are generally more advanced, with 62% in the Adopter category compared to just 47% of Australian organisations
  • Across both markets, mid-sized enterprises (earning $30m to $49m revenue) are ahead of the maturity curve with 66% at the Adopter stage, compared to just 31% of those earning under $10m and 48% earning more than $50m.

It pays to put it in writing

  • There is a direct link between having a formal policy or plan and making significant inroads in the Digital Accessibility journey
  • Organisations which have progressed are often driven by values and culture, not reputation.
  • Awareness of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and other Digital Accessibility standards is lower than expected.

The pandemic is having a mixed effect on progress

  • Overall, the impacts of the pandemic have accelerated Digital Accessibility among organisations.
  • But for many businesses, available budget is often allocated to scaling digital programs rather than progressing Digital Accessibility
  • Organisations who were already on the Accessibility journey have still made progress.

Much like the digital transformation journey, Digital Accessibility is an ongoing process. There will always be room for new solutions and improvements as technology and needs evolve. “This is even more reason for businesses to get started now,” says Andrew Groth, Infosys Executive Vice President and Region Head, Australia and New Zealand, “so they don’t get left behind – or leave anyone behind.

“We hope this report offers inspiration and guidance to organisations as they embark on, or prioritise, their Digital Accessibility investments, and encourage progressive legislation.”

"It is a basic human right to have equal opportunity and possibility."