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Start Small and Expand: How to Foster Disability-Inclusive Communications
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Start Small and Expand: How to Foster Disability-Inclusive Communications

When it comes to inclusive content, there’s much to be done in content creation, access, and consumption.

Last week, the World Economic Forum highlighted disability inclusion as a key theme toward SDG progress — challenging business leaders to make commitments for more inclusive workplaces. As development communicators, I feel that we have a crucial role to play here too. We can amplify a new way of thinking and working. We have the power to make critical hiring decisions. We choose what gets designed, what copy is used, what is pitched, what gets promoted.

But where do you start? I spoke to communications experts working in the disability space to find out.

For communicators wondering where to start on inclusivity, Anna Paix, global coordinator at CBM’s End the Cycle team, suggests that you can start with a simple question: “Ask yourself, who is missing out on this message?” From there, you can start to identify the gaps in access, Paix said.

André Félix, external communication officer at the European Disability Forum, suggests that communicators start with what he calls “accessibility at no cost.” Platforms such as YouTube or Twitter, for example, have built-in accessibility tools. YouTube autocompletes video captions allowing publishers to edit for accuracy and post. On Twitter, users have the option to compose a description of the images so the content is accessible to people who are visually impaired.

But captions are just one way to be inclusive. Content creators can also incorporate screen readers, audio transcriptions for video, and sign language interpretation. These are just a sample of the tools available to make the internet — and content broadly — more accessible for persons with disabilities. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines provide extensive practices by accessibility experts, as does this checklist. Tech giants such as Google offer guidelines for developers and content publishers to help them create accessible content, products, and apps.

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