"When we value perspectives that challenge us, we conquer our biases and keep our minds bright and open. We’re conscious of our limitations, so we challenge and break down silos wherever possible."
As a digital-first organization that produces business software solutions packed with advanced analytics, Arcadis Gen relies on shared digital spaces as our communication platforms to work well with our colleagues from around the world. The same goes for our clients, partners and stakeholders – we collaborate online to work on projects for the societies we serve.
That’s why one of our core values as an organization is global inclusion. Because we rely so much on our digital spaces to communicate, we must take extra measures to make sure that these digital spaces are accessible for everyone.
As we celebrate the 10th Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we look into the efforts we’re doing and continuously improving in our ongoing journey towards diversity and inclusion through the lens of design and digital accessibility.
The purpose of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is to start the conversation, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion – and the more than one billion people with disabilities and impairments.
New empathy in play for digital accessibility
It’s easy to understand why a person in a wheelchair might need a ramp to enter a building, but the reality of a homebound person struggling to click through a webpage to finish a transaction might feel obscure and out of reach to others.
Digital accessibility means someone with a disability must be able to experience web-based services, content and other digital products with the same successful outcome as those without disabilities. Every user deserves a first-rate digital experience on the web.
Since COVID-19 happened, there is a new empathy in play for the need for digital access. And we are taking our lessons from the past year to apply them as building blocks to a more accessible society.
Accessible design in action
Edison Lucmayon, Gen’s very own Senior Digital Designer shared his take on accessibility in his own design process. “Some might feel it harder to empathize when they don’t have disabilities that affect their online experiences. What we can do as designers is to put in the research since there is a wide selection of reference materials and guidelines to help us service everyone equally,” said Edison.
In many aspects of our design processes, we adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 for our website and online content to be more accessible to people with disabilities.
Figure 1 Screenshot from AppliedInsight's explainer video
Captions are an accessibility feature we consistently apply to all our product and explainer videos. Providing captions for pre-recorded videos with audio is under the Beginner category or Level A in WCAG 2.1. Users with hearing impairments may not be able to perceive the sound on a video. Presenting the video’s content in captions means they can fully enjoy the content we put out.
The explainer video is available to watch here.
Figure 2 Arcadis Gen’s website in landscape orientation
Figure 3 Arcadis Gen’s website in portrait orientation
Some users have a preferred orientation or physical requirements and need content to adapt
to their preferences. Others have visual impairments and may find one orientation easier to use.
Orientation is under the Intermediate category or Level AA in WCAG 2.1. Our website and it's inner
pages have a responsive web design for users to easily adapt it to their chosen orientation.
Figure 4 Product Features of Universal Visual Optimizer
The benefits and features sections of all our product pages are properly organized through
headings. Section headings is under the Advanced category or Level AAA in WCAG 2.1. They are
most helpful for users who have difficulty focusing or remembering where they are on a page,
as well as users with a visual impairment who may navigate by skipping between headings.
We make sure that navigating our website is easier for everyone by breaking up our content
through clear and informative headings.
These are just some of the many efforts we put into the digital spaces that we share with our colleagues, clients and partners. We know that global accessibility is a continuous journey, so we’re always open to improve our efforts.
Accessibility removes barriers and unlocks the possible
Public spaces are not limited to just buildings and sidewalks; they also exist on the internet and in the
digital realm. At Gen, we believe that digital accessibility is the essence of innovation. Adapting our
digital spaces and content to all disabilities will allow us to increase our diversity in the workforce and
to cultivate a healthier working environment for our colleagues and clients.
More than anything, accessibility returns to the individual, where it deserves to be – back at the centre of any digital project. Digital innovation can only do so much if it’s not people powered.
Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day!