International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2023: The Role of Digital Accessibility

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December 3rd is International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD), which aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society. 

This year’s event marks the 30th anniversary of the initiative, and the theme is: “United in action to rescue and achieve the sustainable development goals for, with, and by persons with disabilities”. 

As an organization dedicated to accessibility and inclusion for all, IDPWD is something the whole team at Recite Me is enthusiastic to get behind. But, precisely what are the sustainable development goals in question, and what is the role of digital accessibility in the process? 

Let’s start with the basics and go from there.

What are the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 interconnected global objectives established by the United Nations in 2015 to address the world’s most pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges. These goals, to be achieved by 2030, aim to promote prosperity, protect the planet, and ensure peace and well-being for all. 

They cover a wide range of issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, clean water, affordable and clean energy, and much more.

decorative cartoon illustration of 5 people of different ages, ethnicities and abilities

What’s the “Rescue” Part All About?

You might be wondering what that first part of the IDPWP theme is all about: 

“United in action to rescue and achieve the sustainable development goals for, with, and by persons with disabilities”.

The ‘rescue’ element refers to the impression that many SDGs have fallen behind, specifically for people with disabilities. According to the latest UN research, at the mid-point of the implementation period for the 2030 Agenda, the world is not on track to reach many of the targets above. Plus, for many SDGs, progress has either stalled or regressed below the 2015 baseline.

What is Digital Accessibility, and Why is it Essential for People with Disabilities?

Digital accessibility refers to the design and development of online content, platforms, and technologies that can be easily accessed and used by everyone, including individuals with disabilities. The principle foundations involve making websites, applications, documents, and other digital assets perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust (as per the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) for people with diverse abilities. 

Digital accessibility is particularly relevant to those with disabilities because:

  • Having equal access to online resources ensures that people with disabilities have the same opportunities to access information and participate in the digital world as everyone else. 
  • Inclusive website design principles help to create products that are available to and benefit a broader audience. 
  • If companies ignore the ethical and legal considerations relating to digital inclusion, they might inadvertently exclude the disabled population.
  • Making advancements in technology available to everyone provides more equitable opportunities to leverage the benefits for personal (e.g. healthcare) and professional (e.g. education) development.

How Does Digital Accessibility Play a Role in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals?

The United Nations SDGs for 2030 encompass a broad range of objectives aimed at addressing global challenges, and digital accessibility is directly relevant to several of them:

  • Goal 4: Quality Education – Digital accessibility in educational materials and online platforms ensures everyone has equal access to educational resources. This fosters inclusive and quality education for all.
  • Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth – Accessible digital platforms enhance economic opportunities for individuals with disabilities, giving them equal access to job information, application processes, and remote work opportunities.
  • Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities – Accessible websites ensure that individuals with disabilities can actively participate in all aspects of society, including the digital economy, education, and social interactions.
  • Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities – Inclusive cities with smart, accessible technology systems allow people with disabilities to navigate and access essential services and information.
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals – By prioritizing digital accessibility, stakeholders can work together to ensure that technology is an enabler for all, fostering a more inclusive and sustainable world.
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However, even for many of the other SDGs, it’s arguable that software, like Recite Me’s suite of digital accessibility tools, can make a significant difference, as any type of organization with an accessible website is already making a significant stride towards equality, equity, and inclusion.

Digital Accessibility Tools in Action

Recite Me is proud to work with several industry leaders across an array of sectors directly involved in the 2030 SDG mission, including:

  • Food banks
  • Health organizations
  • Education institutions
  • Climate-focused organizations
  • Water and utility companies

To understand the difference assistive technology makes to the end users and beneficiaries of these types of businesses, we invite you to read our user feedback

From an organizational perspective, the response has been equally positive. Here’s what a few of our clients have to say about how improving digital accessibility in partnership with Recite Me has played a fundamental role in the success of their strategies.

Food Bank of Delaware (SDG: Zero Hunger)

“Our mission is to inspire hope in our communities by providing food to nourish Delawareans, while collaborating on long-term solutions to hunger and poverty. We wanted to make sure our services were accessible to all and implemented Recite Me to ensure that all people can find the information they need on our website.”

Kim Turner, Communications Director

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Whatcom Center for Early Learning (SDG: Education)

“Inclusion and accessibility are happening all the time at WCEL! Through our programs, we strive to provide inclusive classroom spaces and therapy to the kids and families in ‘natural environments’ (where at least half or more people are typically developing) based on best-practice research. We center equity in our mission and commit to doing more for families that are impacted by multiple systems of inequality.”

Ella Sherburne, Communications and Events Coordinator

Seattle Parks Foundation (SDGs: Climate Action, Life on Land)

“We chose to install the Recite Me assistive toolbar to make our website accessible and truly inclusive to all. The internet can be an incredibly intimidating place and anyone who finds it difficult to understand or communicate is at a significant disadvantage.”

Lauren Daniels, Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications

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Achieving Impactful Change: The Power of Inclusive Organizational Practices

As the companies we’ve showcased above have demonstrated, organizations often serve as the building blocks for societal change, with the most impactful change starting from within. By internalizing the values of inclusivity and accessibility, companies become agents of transformation, setting a precedent for a more equitable future. 

The first step on the journey is to take deliberate steps by adopting inclusive recruitment policies that foster a supportive organizational culture where every individual can thrive and contribute meaningfully.

Download your Inclusive Recruitment Guide

Everyone should have the opportunity to find their dream job. Discover hidden talent and recruit from a larger talent pool by providing accessibility support. 

Looking for more information, tips, and actionable processes to work through to make your workplace more inclusive? Download our Inclusive Recruitment Guide. Don’t Delay!

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