Make a Change on Global Accessibility Awareness Day #GAAD

Post Date: 05/15/2014
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Today – Thursday, May 15 – marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). Recognized by individuals and organizations around the globe, GAAD is a community-driven effort to highlight the importance of digital accessibility for everyone, and especially those with disabilities. This includes aspects of digital accessibility related to the web, software, mobile applications and devices, and much more. At AvePoint, we fully support the spirit of this effort, and also recognize that accessibility awareness is no less important throughout the other 364 days of the year. According to the United Nations, approximately 10 percent of the world’s population lives with a disability – meaning 650 million people, and growing. Whether you’re supporting customers, constituents, employees, partners, or simply anyone with interest in your organization, it’s important to ensure you are proving appropriate access to information and IT systems. In honor of GAAD, we’d like to share three simple steps you can take to help ensure your organization is building accessibility into its everyday corporate culture. 1.)    Identify Executive Leaders Accessibility can be an “unknown problem” in an organization. If those with disabilities cannot access your website, for instance, they may simply go elsewhere rather than share their experiences. Make sure that you have identified an executive sponsor within your organization to educate business leadership on the importance of accessibility and to ignite the necessary change to organizational standards and processes. Ideally, this person should have a strong mix of technical acumen and a deep understanding of the regulatory landscape. You may also consider putting together a committee of leaders who embody these traits. Look toward your information and compliance officers as well as your legal team and IT leadership to find the people you need to build out your all-star accessibility team. Trust is something that businesses must work to establish with their customers every day. Once lost, it is very difficult to regain. Accessibility, like privacy and security, must become a part of your corporate DNA. Thus it must become an integrated component of your corporate culture. 2.)    Equip Employees with Know-How Once you have achieved executive buy-in, it’s time to create a plan and spread the accessibility message throughout the rest of the organization. One of the best ways to do this is by engaging employees through a lively and informative company-wide training. At AvePoint, our teams are trained on the following topics:
  • Understanding accessibility
  • Guidelines necessary to mitigate accessibility issues
  • Major accessibility guideline regulations and how to comply – across website, products, marketing materials, and development process
In addition to this training, you will need to work with teams generating, developing, and maintaining web content to ensure they are following guidelines. For instance, when your marketing and communications teams make regular updates to your website or create new collateral, do they have a process that checks it against accepted accessibility guidelines? As stated earlier, accessibility is an ongoing concern that needs to be addressed on a daily basis for the good of the whole organization. 3.)    Engage New Technology that Makes Your Existing Technology Accessible Whether you have been employing accessibility by design for your web properties from the start or are just now realizing its importance, it’s essential to know where you stand. With the ever expanding and evolving nature of websites, this isn’t always easy. Fortunately, we at AvePoint are here to help. We’ve made available the following technologies to cater to your accessibility compliance needs:
  • Compliance Detector: This free, educational solution allows you to instantly report on accessibility violations for any URL.
  • Compliance Guardian: Mitigate risk across your information gateways – including file systems, SharePoint, web, social, and the cloud – to support content and system accessibility and much more.
  • Compliance Guardian Online: A complete Governance, Risk, and Compliance platform to minimize risk of accessibility violations and more for web applications, websites, and cloud platforms.
To see how this technology is making a big difference at an organization that prioritizes accessibility above all else – London’s Business Disability Forum – be sure to read our newest case study for Compliance Guardian Online. Consumers have the power to applaud companies that provide proper attention to these matters on their web sites with their purchasing power, and by supporting brands that they respect. At the end of the day, if consumers make accessibility, usability, and protection of their private information a priority, then the companies competing for their dollars and their loyalties will do so as well! AvePoint looks forward to continually helping our customers – enterprise businesses and government agencies as well as consumers – meet these standards into the future! I hope you are able to take the opportunity today on GAAD to learn something new or educate someone else about the importance of accessibility and ways we can help eliminate the challenges people with disabilities face every day. The best time to begin making a change at your organization is now – because a change of this nature is not only for the good of your organization, it’s for the good for the rest of the world as well. Do you have any accessibility tips you’d like to share? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment below and let us know!

Dana Louise Simberkoff is the Chief Risk, Privacy and Information Security Officer at AvePoint. She is responsible for AvePoint’s privacy, data protection, and security programs. She manages a global team of subject matter experts that provide executive level consulting, research, and analytical support on current and upcoming industry trends, technology, standards, best practices, concepts, and solutions for risk management and compliance. Ms. Simberkoff is responsible for maintaining relationships with executive management and multiple constituencies both internal and external to the corporation, providing guidance on product direction, technology enhancements, customer challenges, and market opportunities. Ms. Simberkoff has led speaking sessions at data privacy and security events around the globe. She was featured in Forbes, writes a monthly column for CMSWire, and was highlighted in the CSO Online list of “12 Amazing Women in Security”. She is a current member of the Women Leading Privacy Advisory Board and a past member of the Education Advisory Board for the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). Ms. Simberkoff holds a BA from Dartmouth College and a JD from Suffolk University Law School. LinkedIn: Twitter:

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