Accessible design is the essence of innovation

"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.

1. Captions

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.



2. Orientation

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.


3. Section Headings

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!

Author

Image of Vicky Ernst

Vicky Ernst

Strategic Projects

Leading Strategic Projects, Vicky drives Arcadis Gen's strategies through the lens of our customers, people, and markets. Additionally, she is also passionate about inclusion and belonging in the workplace and beyond, and strongly promotes this culture of connectedness.

Raymond Delno

Raymond Delno

UX Engineer

When it comes to user accessibility, experience and interface, Raymond’s pixel perfect eye for detail and expertise in analytical processes are crucial to the production of different digital products and spaces of Arcadis Gen and their clients. He is also passionate to continuously learn about the human-machine interaction in this technological age.

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