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White line art image of a computer with an accessibility icon in the center and other accessibility traits coming off of the computer with colorful bubbles and a dark blue background.
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The Importance of Being Accessible

Why we need to integrate accessibility in all communication:

Imagine visiting a website and not being able to understand any of it. The text is impossible to read because of its background and all the pictures are dark so you can’t make out what it is. 

This is a reality for many people and it’s why making your site accessible matters. Digital accessibility is not only important, it’s critical. 

Since the start of COVID-19, more people have gone virtual. Digital accessibility doesn’t stop at websites; it affects virtual classrooms, social media, digitally shared documents and more. 

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Cases rose 50% after slowing during the initial COVID-19 lockdowns.
THE COVID-19 EFFECT

The lockdown in states such as New York affected filing numbers during the initial lockdown period. After July, plaintiffs increased the rate of filing. By the end of 2020, lawsuits increased by more than 50 percent above the pre-pandemic rate of filing. 

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How can you start implementing accessibility across your channels?

Using alternative text, closed captioning and the use of plain language is an excellent start! You can learn more about each aspect here: https://www.aapd.com/digital-accessibility-covid-19/

Alternative text is used on websites, social media and electronic email/newsletters. It allows you to describe what the picture is on your webpage, social media page or electronic document for those who are visually impaired. 

For closed captioning, YouTube is a great site to automatically create captions after you upload. Be sure to go back and edit the script as YouTube isn’t perfect and some of the words will be incorrect. 

Plain language is more concise writing. This is beneficial to those who have an intellectual disability or English is their second language.

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Having an accessible site is essential for your users and can also prevent lawsuits. 

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23% increase in 2020. Almost 10 lawsuits every business day.

ADA-related cases in 2020 increased 23 percent over 2019. This includes cases filed in federal court and those filed in California state court under the Unruh Act with a direct reference to violation of the ADA. 

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Cases were more likely to reference “acute harm during COVID-19” since everything went virtual. You can learn more about these lawsuits here: https://blog.usablenet.com/ada-accessibility-lawsuits-during-coronavirus

To maintain an active audience, it’s critical that accessibility is applied to all communication forms so everyone can understand. 

Download the 2020 ADA Digital Accessibility Lawsuits Report

About This Article

Lizzie Kibler
Lizzie Kibler Wallace ('16)
Contributor. NKU Magazine
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Published April 2021

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