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

Understanding Digital Accessibility

For the purposes of this report, Digital Accessibility with advice from accessibility partners, was defined as the ability to allow a wide range of users – including those with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disabilities – to access and navigate digital content. Digital Accessibility facilitates the right to participate and thrive in today’s digital world, which includes websites, apps, digital documents, and devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets and self-serve kiosks.

Innovations in Digital Accessibility are happening everywhere – from talking microwave ovens for users with low vision, to gloves that translate sign language into audible speech. In fact, the global assistive technology industry is set to surpass $24b by 2024, up from only $14b in 2015. But it’s important to remember that the majority of solutions are much closer to home and easier to achieve. Common examples include:

  • Providing alt text or audio descriptions for visual designs
  • The ability to present information in multiple different ways without losing meaning
  • Designing visuals in ways that avoid causing seizures
  • Using intuitive navigation and plain language
  • Tagging documents with the correct reading order
  • Integrating closed captions for audio-visual media
  • Enabling keyboard-only navigation for users who aren’t able to use a mouse.

More than 20% of the community

One in five Australians and one in four New Zealanders identify as having some form of disability. This means that, without Digital Accessibility, organisations are potentially excluding more than a fifth of their workforce or customer base – an impact with consequences in all directions.

"Imagine trying to schedule a vaccination appointment, or get a COVID-19 test, if the whole process is not designed accessibly."

- Will Butler, VP of Community at Be My Eyes

But improving the accessibility of digital platforms, tools and experiences doesn’t just benefit people with disability. In this report, 63% of organisations say that improving Digital Accessibility can lead to better digital experiences for everyone, regardless of abilities. This kind of widespread improvement holds major potential for a company’s bottom line, customer satisfaction and even the world’s understanding of technology. In fact, many of the world's most powerful digital tools originated as Accessibility innovations – from eBooks and movie subtitles to GPS voice directions and “personal assistants” like Siri.

“Digital Accessibility impacts the whole organisation - not just the IT department,” says Amy Whalley, Deputy CEO of Australian Network on Disability. “Accessible technology enables businesses to provide access to employment and supports an inclusive culture.” And it’s a journey that we need to start now. In this report, 35% of mature businesses in Digital Accessibility say they have already been along the journey for over four years, highlighting that getting started is the most important step.