Implementing Integrated Accessibility

Implementing Integrated Accessibility

  • inclusive design,
  • SJRK

Being involved in the SJRK project has enabled TakingITGlobal to actively explore, pilot and implement accessibility across our programs and operations.

Ongoing engagement across the domains of inclusive design, co-design and social justice movements around the world has allowed TIG staff to practise and test the process of inclusive design across new and existing initiatives augmented through our involvement in the project.

The first and perhaps biggest change across the organization and our work is an overall culture shift which has led to the organization being more comfortable and familiar with the processes involved in inclusion. At first, differences across ability can be challenging to engage with, as there may be an inward fear of offending, of doing or saying the wrong thing. This fear not can prevent us from starting and thus doing anything that could address barriers and advance accommodations for inclusion.

To ensure our effort in moving towards inclusion was adopted organization wide, we started by examining TIG’s weekly staff meetings and reviewing them from a participation and inclusion perspective. We set up an open process for ongoing feedback and invited our team to participate in the process of iterative improvement, enabling our team to identify and or present topics they would find useful to their work. We also opened a conversation about differences in our learning and the modalities that would be most appropriate for our ongoing professional development. Next we implemented a staff training on the AODA guidelines and created a digital space for onboarding of new staff which integrates accessibility into the welcoming and onboarding process for future staff. TIG’s tech team also benefited from tool specific conversations which enabled us to share tools and practises which result in a more inclusive design and development process.

In addition to these steps, our team established ongoing support through a recurring “drop in meeting” that allowed staff to discuss their experiences and challenges with accessibility in a more private personal environment. These changes in work culture led to members of the team disclosing their disability status and ongoing discussions about supports we could implement to effectively accommodate these differences. This culture of support also led to new members of the team proactively and publicly discussing their learning differences in staff meetings, addressing stigma and providing useful insights into how we can more effectively work together.

Tech Processes

TIG has improved its’ Tech development processes to incorporate new tools which allow us to integrate acessibility into our ongoing design and development work.

Tools including the ones below are now integrated into our tech processes, leading to designs that are more usable by people across the spectrum of ability :

  • The Colour Contrast Analyzer - to verify that colour pallets in our designs conform to accessibility best practises
  • Sim Daltonism - a colour blindness simulator which allows our designers to see through the eyes of someone with differences in their vision.
  • The Wave extension which checks webpages for accessibility elements like ALT text, Aria labels and Headings to ensure our sites will be navigable for individuals across the spectrum of accessibility
  • Hemmingway - a webpage which reviews text to ensure it is clear and readable.
  • Infusion extension - a visual accessibility widget that enables websites to be modified to suit the needs of people with visual impairments.

Inclusive Co-design

In order to ensure perspectives from people with disabilities are also at the center of our work, TIG engaged with organizations and individuals in the accessibility and disability field.

Through RisingYouth, we created collaborations and partnerships with CNIB Newbrunswick and we asked for and incorporated feedback from Déphy Sans Limite to simplify the language of the federal government grants we are administering. TIG is also actively pursuing regional and national collaborations with further organizations such as CNIB, L’Arche, and BestBuddies. Each of these collaborative conversations ends up leading to iterative changes to our processes in order to meet the diverse needs of the stakeholders involved.

To develop the Sustainable Development Goal Inclusive Design Toolkit, TIG contracted Matthew Shapiro from 6WheelsConsulting to provide input and expertise from a disability perspective. Collaborating closely with people with disabilities to implement co-design is a necessary step to ensure their perspectives are at the heart of products and processes built for and about them.

Working closely in community to identify barriers and determine how to move forward together is an essential facet of social justice. Co-design, collaboration and the sharing of tools and best practises have all benefited the individuals on our team, our organization, the stakeholders of our work and our processes for building a more just and inclusive world together.