When we look to accessibility standards, few of the requirements are groundbreaking: add a description for images, be sure link text is purposeful, give users better control over dynamic content, provide closed captions for videos, ensure form instructions are detailed, etc. None of these criteria come as a surprise. So why do 89% of Fortune 100 companies fail a simple accessibility test that benchmarks against these and similar criteria?
The reason is mindset.
Companies are developing tools and features for their websites and technology platforms without the regulatory oversight of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandated accessibility for brick-and-mortar properties in the 90s. Unfortunately, many companies have neglected accessibility, have deprioritized accessibility, or have been unmotivated to learn about accessibility—and that includes HR teams deploying career sites. It's time for us all to do better.
What companies may not realize is that accessibility knowledge—and an awareness of accessible solutions—breeds empathy, which allows teams to build more usable products and TA teams to see rich diversity in their talent pools.
Are We Making Progress?
This year is the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, yet people with disabilities still experience greater unemployment, and digital accessibility litigation against companies remains high.
At Phenom, and for many companies like us, accessibility isn’t about litigation, it’s about doing the right thing. We realize that people with disabilities are less likely to be employed, but when they have work, there’s overwhelming evidence that people with diverse abilities inspire innovation in teams and benefit a company’s bottom line.
At this year's IAMPHENOM, Joyce Bender, Founder of Bender Consulting Services, discussed why it's so important to hire people with disabilities, and ways to make a difference in the workforce. Leaders like Joyce are important voices in the conversation on digital equality, but a transformation can only happen if companies commit to change.
Building Solutions with a New Mindset
TA teams must understand exactly this as they build their employer brand and publish new candidate-facing content. They should be asking themselves, “How will someone access and interact with this?”—and organizations should encourage this type of curiosity in everything they do. If this happens, there will be a significant shift. Teams will think about accessibility as they plan content and partnerships; accessibility will be baked in and not retrofitted!
Along with the included cost savings associated with planning for accessibility and other benefits for companies, job seekers benefit from optimized experiences. Businesses are able to capture and embrace ever-greater diversity and growth. An empathetic mindset facilitates the development of inclusive digital experiences, which directly impacts an organization’s brand and the ability for that organization to realize diverse top-of-funnel talent.
Out-of-the-Box Solutions to Enable Digital Accessibility
Making your career site fully accessible to people with disabilities can seem daunting at first, but there are ways to do it that don’t require a lot of back-and-forth with your web development team. For example, our accessibility features are included in the Phenom TXM platform because we want to make accessibility a no-brainer for HR teams. How do we do it?
Related: Watch our Designing with Empathy panel from IAMPHENOM 2020
Phenom Career Sites
We develop career site canvases that are optimized for accessibility out-of-the-box. That means there’s no need to “turn on” accessibility as a separate step during implementation. In the future, as we make platform-level accessibility enhancements, these can be easily synced to our career sites. Accessibility guidelines have adapted to different shifts in technology—WCAG 2.1 includes accessibility guidance for mobile devices—and as the Phenom team fortifies our product leveraging the newest guidance, we can pass those enhancements onto our partners using our scalable platform.
Within our content management system, our widgets are not only optimized to be accessible, but we are adding new features to prevent the introduction of issues into a site. For example, a CMS user will be warned that an image or link is missing necessary attributes if they forget that step when adding new content on a page. Phenom’s CMS features serve as “bumpers” and provide feedback to CMS users about page-level accessibility, ultimately allowing them to construct more inclusive digital spaces.
Automation & AI Throughout the Phenom TXM Platform
The robust automation tools we use in our accessibility testing are designed and built with logic that benchmarks against WCAG criteria. This empowers our development team to identify accessibility issues, solve those issues, and then monitor accessibility conformance. We continue to fine-tune our tools, leveraging patterns we see to develop scalable remediation and provide valuable accessibility insights back to CMS users.
We know that digital accessibility may be new for you and your team. We know that the guidelines can be confusing. We also understand that as our world becomes more digital, we must think about digital equality. Phenom is baking accessibility into our product, and we want to make it easy for our partners to implement. Let us know what you think about our improvements.
Interested in learning more about the state of digital accessibility?