Accessibility, Inclusion Still Matters
Even when working Remotely or in a Pandemic, Accessibility is Paramount
Published September 2020
Accessibility matters to all organizations, including nonprofits, especially when working remotely. Here are some tips for ensuring that your remote work is inclusive.
Ask and then Do It
Whenever someone registers for a meeting, ask the person how you can provide accommodations for him or her. Then provide those accommodations to the group at no extra charge. All organizations should have adaptive services in their annual budgets. Feel free to adapt ESC’s registration question text for your use. We include, “ESC is committed to be a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. Would you like to request accommodations such as live captioning, large text versions of files shared, ASL interpretation, or language translation?” Provide a large paragraph response block for a descriptive response. Then make whatever accommodation is requested available.
Amplify Inclusive Voices
Remote meetings have opened up the possibility for more potential speakers and presenters than ever before. It is the responsibility of those in positions of power to identify diverse voices and bring them to table. It is not equitable to expect those who are disenfranchised to circumvent the power structure and put themselves at the front of the line. If you need recommendations on a speaker or panelist on any topic, of any background, ESC is here to help. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The more time we spend online, the more the images we see on websites, social media, and in email newsletters impact us. One may have a tendency to think of ethnic background, gender, or sexual orientation when they think of diversity. This is likely because those have been significant ways that people have been discriminated against. ESC encourages us to think of inclusion in as many ways as is possible. Individuals with diverse religions, abilities, backgrounds, ages, cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, or body shapes should be included too; everyone should. When a person sees themselves in your images on your website, they know they belong. Seeing yourself means you know you are truly invited in.
Internet Access and Speed
The economic barriers to high-speed internet are often forgotten as an issue of accessibility. If you are holding a meeting or training for a large number of people, encourage those not presenting to turn off their video cameras and move to speaker, host, or screen share view. Make performances or workshops available on-demand online in easily accessible formats so that those who access them via public spaces such as libraries or a shared computer can participate when they have access to do so. Make toll free call options and TTY available.
Avoid sending large files that might bounce from free email services or eat up hard drive space on older computers. Don’t send files in a format that requires the purchase of a program to access them accurately. ESC encourages files to be shared in PDF format whenever possible.
Be prepared to provide large size PDFs of images and text to share via the file share function or before the meeting as part of the confirmation email. There are free print-to-PDF programs available. Plan to provide any accommodation that has been previously requested at all future meetings. Maintain the flexibility and budget padding to provide those who need support to participate with that support promptly and without question.
If your organization interacts with the public or needs to gather in a socially distant group, think carefully about accessibility in your face mask design. Masks with transparent view of lips help those who read lips, are hard of hearing, or deaf participate during interactions that are conducted in person. Free instructions for how to make masks with transparent windows for lip reading can be found on the Executive Service Corps (ESC)’s website at https://www.execservicecorps.org/inclusiontrainingtools.
If you have additional suggestions for maintaining accessibility while working remotely, please share them with ESC at email@example.com.
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