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This is an incredibly tough time for everyone for many different reasons, and we’re all trying our best to adjust. In the business world, many companies are transitioning to a work from home mode of operations. Jokes about wearing pajamas all day aside, it can be a complex transition for teams to make.
I was inspired by the AFB’s fantastic post on making your online conferences and classes accessible. To contribute to the conversation, I wanted to cover a topic that’s critical and often overlooked – accessibility and working from home. As a visually impaired UserWay employee, I often work remotely.
Moving to a WFH setup takes time and consideration, which unfortunately for many hasn’t been possible in recent weeks. But that isn’t an excuse to make things inaccessible or to stop moving forward with your accessibility plans. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your remote employees have what they need.
Create Accessible Announcements
So many companies are sending out messages from CEOs and leadership to inspire and inform. Very few of these are being distributed in accessible formats. For one thing, closed captioning is a must. YouTube makes it simple to get an auto-generated caption that you can quickly and easily edit. You don’t need to publish the video on the platform, but you can download the transcript in a document and caption the video much more quickly.
Second, consider creating detailed transcripts for blind users. These include text descriptions of what is happening on the screen. That way, when they use a screen reader, they will get a description of what is happening on screen in the video. This is especially important if the video contains charts, images, or slides.
Offer Software Support
When I work in the office, I use a different OS than I do at home. That means the accessible tech I use in my work life isn’t necessarily something I need when I’m living my daily life. That’s probably true for many of your employees too.
If they’re using a personal computer while they work from home, they might not be familiar with the accessibility settings they need to get their work done. If possible, have your tech team on hand for office hours where they can help disabled users access the accommodations they need to complete their work comfortably.
Evaluate Your Content
While you’re working from home, it’s a good time to evaluate your internal digital content. Put yourself in the users’ shoes and see how the content works (or doesn’t). Try things like checking the color contrast, having your site read aloud to you with a screen reader, and filling out an internal form like a purchase request using just your keyboard to navigate. Can you achieve your goals without frustration? If you can’t, many of your employees can’t either.
Often, people forget that internal wikis, intranets, and employee resources need to be accessible. Now that it’s just you and your computer, it’s time to figure out how to fix that.
However you move forward, please do keep accessibility in mind. Your workforce did not suddenly forget they require specific tools, even if they had to leave their accessible setup in the office. Make sure to check-in, get creative with solutions, and take the time to be there as your employees adjust as well. We sincerely hope you stay safe and healthy during this time.