Introduction to Digital Accessibility
What is digital accessibility?
Digital accessibility is about removing barriers that may prevent a person from being able to engage with digital content. Barriers can be present in the content being delivered, and the platform being used to convey, or engage with the content. That makes digital accessibility an everybody responsibility, no matter your role at Western.
Why is accessibility important?
It is essential that our content and digital platforms are accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with diverse abilities. Equity is a key principle that guides what we do at Western, as outlined in the Sustaining Success 2021-2026 Strategic Plan (PDF, 10876.04 KB) (opens in a new window). The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also recognises access to information and communications technologies, including the Web, as a basic human right.
Accessibility also supports inclusion not only for people with disabilities, but also for older people, people who live in rural areas and people who are using older equipment. Widening participation of students and staff in this way is one way we can show fairness in our digital practices, which is particularly important in these times of higher dependence on digital technologies.
This increased reach and participation also supports Western in meeting our ongoing UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, helping reduce inequalities and ensuring we keep our place as a world leader for the SDGs.
The need for accessibility
People with access needs account for 20% of the earth’s population, or 1.2 billion people world-wide.
The 2003 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey of disability, ageing and carers found that one in five people (about four million Australians) reported that they had a disability.
Many of our students, both with and without a disability make use of assistive technologies and accessibility tools to engage with their learning content and enhance their educational experience both on and off campus. Difficulty accessing digital content can be a long-term problem or stem from a temporary injury or situation, like holding a baby or a cup of steaming hot coffee.
A different perspective
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) have created a series of videos on web accessibility perspectives. These show how a range of people interact with digital content, including use of assistive technologies, and the basics of why. These videos demonstrate how certain content design choices can impact upon a user's experience. Watching all 10 videos takes less than 10 minutes.