CSR, ROI and other TLA’s
By Dr. Vivienne Conway at Web Key IT (1st October 2019)
At Web Key IT we have a few things that are tremendously important to us as a business. While we are a corporate entity, we exist to make life a little better for people who might struggle in our progressively digital society.
We have a very strong commitment to people living with issues that affect their ability to interact with digital services such as websites, applications and documents they need to access. I do quite a lot of public speaking because I made a commitment to myself to never turn down an opportunity to speak up for the rights of people with disabilities if I can possibly accommodate it.
Web Key has a couple of programs with regard to issues we view as our corporate social responsibility, CSR for those who love TLAs (three letter acronyms). We don’t advertise our services in the usual manner as it doesn’t seem to work for the unique services we offer. Our clients tell their colleagues about their experience working with us, and often potential clients hear us speak at an event or attend one of our training courses.
We provide a free Learn@Lunchtime event for businesses and other groups. These events take about an hour including 15 minutes for questions and answers. There is no commercial content in the presentation. It is all about educating people on the importance of digital accessibility and providing examples of both good and bad practice including some customisation for the host from their own website. Customising the presentation increases organisational understanding of the issues. If this interests you, just contact us.
With our staff, we have also created programs to assist not for profit organisations with limited funds. We help them understand whether their organisation has digital accessibility issues which may place them at risk and prevent their users being able to access services. In this ‘fly over’ review, a staff member proposes a charity website and receives permission to contact them about the review. If the organisation is interested, then the staff member conducts a few company hours of analysis work, but also donates the same amount of their own time for the review. The results of the review are then provided to the organisation with our recommendations. The review is not a full audit but high-level review of three pages of the website, reporting on critical issues.
At a recent meeting, a potential client asked why people look for a return on investment (ROI), when digital accessibility should rather be viewed as CSR, because it is a human rights issue. I completely agree, but we have discovered until people understand the importance of equality of access to digital information and services, they tend to look at either legal mandate “What happens if I don’t…?”, or “what is the ROI?” Once they ‘get it’, they view accessibility as the human rights issue it really is. In the meeting I just mentioned, the individual had a daughter with autism challenges and understood first-hand how difficult using digital resources can be.
I believe that before we hold people accountable for the accessibility of their digital resources, we need to explain how it affects their users as well as the benefits to the organisation of properly accessible services. We have been doing some new research to determine what users want, their experiences, and what organisations understand about accessibility. In the near future, we will make the survey results and analysis available. If you’d like to have your say or contribute to the data, here are the links. One survey is for the user, and the other for the organisation. If you fall into both categories, then please complete both. The survey opportunity will close at the end of October, so the clock is ticking.
I hope this brief explanation of how we work and view our own CSR helps and perhaps motivates others to examine their own policies and programs. As always, we welcome your input and are happy to provide more information. Together, let’s unlock the web!