Digital Access marks a 20-year vision for accessibility

21 May 2020

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) will take on added celebration at Vision Australia in 2020.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Vision Australia’s Digital Access service, which has grown into an internationally recognised industry leader in the provision of digital accessibility services.

Part of Vision Australia, Digital Access’ expertise extends beyond accessibility issues relating to people who are blind or have low vision. Digital Access specialises in web accessibility consultancy, training and testing, and its services are designed to help organisations make their digital presence accessible and inclusive to all.

Neil King, Vision Australia National Manager Digital Access, said the 20th anniversary comes at a time when the need to consider and ensure accessibility becomes more and more important.

“It’s estimated that one in five Australians live with a disability and we’re seeing an increased amount of essential services and information being moved to online and digital platforms,” Neil said.

“If accessibility isn’t a key consideration of this process and when these platforms are designed, then there’s a real risk that people with disability could be locked out of participating in large parts of everyday life. This is why the services Digital Access provide and initiatives like GAAD are so important,” he said.

While there is still a need for greater awareness and understanding around the importance of accessibility, Neil said there has been a marked improvement over the 20 years Digital Access has been operating.

“We’re certainly not at the point where accessibility is as widespread as it should be, but there’s certainly been a change in attitude. We’re working with more and more organisations who recognise that accessibility benefits everyone.

“For organisations, it means their products and services reach even more people. We also know that products and platforms that are designed to be accessible have a better user-experience for everyone, not just people with disability.”

Neil said Digital Access’ recent work with the South Australian government highlights this change in attitude. Digital Access supported the South Australian government in their development of their Online Accessibility Policy, Online Accessibility Toolkit and Website Design System.

“The South Australian government took a step-back and effectively asked what was needed to ensure its entire online presence is accessible. They then developed both the guidelines and resources they needed for that to happen.

“They’ve put accessibility at the forefront and also mapped out how it can be achieved. In that respect they’ve become a world leader and we’re proud to have worked alongside them.”

Throughout their 20-year history, Digital Access have worked with a number of major organistaions, but their work to promote accessibility has also benefitted small organisations and the general public.

“Each year we hold a huge number of training courses across Australia that focus on a number of common accessibility topics. We’ve provided thousands of people from organisations big and small with the skills they need to produce products, content and more that’s accessible.

“We’ve also developed a range of free tools, like our Document Accessibility Toolbar, that are available for people to use at work, study or home to help them achieve and understand accessibility.

You can find out more about Digital Access’ services online or contact the team directly via phone on 1300 367 055 or email at digitalaccess@visionaustralia.org.