How the Pandemic Shone a Much-Needed Spotlight on the Lack of Accessibility in the Workplace

September 2, 2021

Photo courtesy of 24 Seven

Recently, a range of industries have introduced more accessibility-centered jobs, whether they focus on operational or technological aspects, as they try to tailor their products and services to customers with disabilities. According to LinkedIn, the number of job listings with “accessibility” in the title increased by 78% in the year ending in July 2021. Despite this upward trend, LinkedIn reports that accessibility positions still only represent a fraction of jobs posted on their site. 

Why has this trend emerged? 

The rise in accessibility-centered jobs is the result of a number of pandemic-era realizations including: Covid-19’s effects, an uptick in disability lawsuits, and business diversity and inclusion efforts. Lockdowns forced consumers and employees to turn to their computers for their shopping, work, entertainment, and social interactions; unfortunately, they were met with society’s flagrant accessibility shortcomings, such as no captions on video calls for example. As the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at the digital accessibility consulting firm Microassist Inc., Jack McElaney, puts it, “what Covid has done is made people aware, at a level that nothing else would have made them aware, about what a digital presence means and having equal access.” 

Several other overlapping developments have made the need for increased accessibility all the more necessary. 

Lawsuits specifically alleging that websites, apps, and digital videos are inaccessible to viewers with disabilities have increased rapidly over the past few years; in 2020, 3,500 were filed compared to 2,900 in 2019 according to UseableNet Inc., an accessibility-compliance technology firm. 

Diversity and inclusion commitments have also been looming over companies’ heads since they made them following last summer’s Black Lives Matter Movement. 

Around 73 million baby boomers now require accessibility products, whether or not they identify as having a disability. 

Lastly, companies simply do not want to fall behind on the topic. Accessibility is neither a trend nor a bonus, but a necessary facet of a company’s services, jobs, and operations that owners have come to understand. And for users, consumers, and employees – accessibility is simply a necessity. As Alexa Huth, a consultant at Wheelhouse Group LLC, puts it, “you want to be able to disclose so that you can get the accommodations that you need and you want to be able to do it without feeling like you’re asking for something extra, because it is not extra. It is what you need to succeed in your job just like anybody else.” 

Connect with Andreas Koutsoudakis on LinkedIn.

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