Is There a Digital Divide at Work?

This week we’re celebrating National Inclusion Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness of the importance of inclusion in the workplace and the business benefits of having an inclusive workforce. And, in today’s technology- and digitally-driven workplace, it’s becoming more and more important to make sure you’re doing something about digital inclusion.

The web has transformed almost every aspect of working life. Employees are being asked to work harder and faster to keep up with the growing use of webinars, presentations, instant messaging, and the overwhelming volume of email in the workplace. There is a worrying silence around the impact of these new communications technologies on disabled employees, and jobseekers and your disabled customers. Research has shown that there is a sharp digital divide between individuals with and without disabilities that can cause or exacerbate problems with work performance and mental health conditions amongst disabled people.

After I was diagnosed with dyslexia in my early 20s, I began to learn about the power technology holds to remove barriers facing many disabled people. The type of font you use can make a difference to people with learning disabilities, or people with a visual impairment. Generally speaking, sans-serif font styles like Arial and Helvetica are more accessible to people with visual impairments or learning disabilities. You can see list of accessible fonts here. Alternatively, take a look at this guide for more information on choosing accessible fonts.

With 12 million disabled people in the UK, there is a huge potential for this audience to be excluded from the benefits of technology in the workplace. It makes smart business sense for companies to be proactive in addressing the communication barriers that can arise for people with disabilities like dyslexia and vision impairment at work. New technologies are continuously being developed to anticipate the needs of people with disabilities to empower them to access the web content how they want and when they want.

We are living and working in a mobile world. The workplace nowadays can be many places other than your desk or workstation. Employers need to think about how their people are accessing information remotely at home, on the train, in a coffee shop or even sometimes on the beach. Its about the systems you’ve got set up and whether the solutions you offer are Cloud-based and work across multiple platforms. “Bring Your Own Device” to work is now common practice, but it means whatever software services you choose, they need to be dynamic, responsive and work on all operating systems.

Making your website accessible to everyone will not only open your door to new customers, but also enable the full and efficient participation of disabled employees in the workplace. By removing potential barriers to website access, you can create a more productive and inclusive workplace that drives business benefits. And, you can overcome the digital divide in your workplace.

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