We all like our comfort blanket. It provides us with a level of confidence. An anchor. A protector. And a safety net if needed. In my world, and especially in terms of presentations, my comfort blanket is my notes that sit beside me when I am on stage. Because they are there, I don’t need them. If they were not there I would dry up, my memory would disappear and suddenly my thread will have been lost.
I am about to say goodbye to my comfort blanket, with or without notes!
On 26 March I am presenting at the ATEC National Conference in Coventry. I lived in Coventry for over 15 years so you would have thought a seasoned hack like me would see that as a comfort. But the conference is on technology – and the application of assistive technology at that – and the audience are…. assistive technology experts. For those of you who know me well, will know that I’m a bit of a technophobe, I like what I know and I tend not to stray away from this, so you can understand how that comfort blanket is being torn away from me!
I know the stats. The recent click-away pound report shows the loss of revenue to UK PLC has increased from £11.75 billion in 2016 to £17.1 billion in 2019, which is due to issues around web accessibility where disabled have left a website without making a purchase, despite having the intent to do so.
I can also put forward some basic examples to demonstrate what poor accessibility looks like. Words in capital letters which screen readers read as acronyms. Telling people to unplug their mouse and see how easy it is to navigate their organisations website. Letting people know the importance of a site map.
I am currently working on my angle – things I can say that will add value to the everyday work of delegates. It sounds obvious but digital accessibility doesn’t sit in a vacuum. You might be technical, but you need to take everybody with you on the journey – not only people who are digitally savvy but luddites like me.
The various digital elements within an organisation need to connect. From a HR practice that enables a disabled staff member to access information to the disabled customer who will simply click-away as the report says. Accessibility must apply to emerging technology. We know AI is predicted to lead to a tripling of disability employment in the next decade but only if the conference audience make it accessible. I suspect they may already know this.
My first presentation in a while without a comfort blanket. I think I am ok with this as long as I don’t get asked any questions!
10 March 2020
The ATEC Conference is an annual conference that showcases excellence in assistive technology that removes barriers to learning and work. The event is aimed at disability professionals and technologists involved in post 16 education and the workplace.
For further information go to https://www.ateconference.com/