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All I Want For Digital Campaign Calls for Inclusive Future

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All I Want For Digital campaign

All I Want For Digital is Knocking Down Disability Accessibility Barriers Online Worldwide

Global digital transformation agency Cyber-Duck has launched the ‘All I Want For Digital’ campaign, which aims to remove digital accessibility barriers worldwide. Diverse users of the internet need to be heard and listened to. Is there enough being done to include them across all digital channels? Data from WebAIM, shows not, with less than 3% of website homepages being truly accessible to all users, meaning that the majority feel excluded from what most people take for granted. This is exactly what the #AllIWantForDigital campaign is shining a light on; the need for all brands, companies, and individuals to work harder to make all their digital experiences inclusive. 

‘Ask yourself, what one thing would make digital better for everyone?’ 

This is the question Cyber-Duck team members asked a group of campaigners, Paralympians, creators and personalities with visible and hidden disabilities. The goal was to learn about their positive and negative experiences of online interactions in order to provide the world with inspiration to better the digital world. 

Former tech journalist Rory Cellan-Jones, comedy writer Sara Gibbs, author and campaigner Sandi Wassmer and gold medal Paralympian Giles Long are amongst others, featured in the campaign as representatives of people living with disabilities and how they’re affected by non-inclusive digital experiences. They share their reasons why they want to see positive change in this space. Take Mik Scarlet, TV presenter, co-CEO Phab, and wheelchair user, who says, “I want people who design or own a website or app to have a mind shift change. To stop thinking that they’re designing for disabled people or for those people over there and remember that good products work for everybody.” 

All I Want For Digital campaign

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Danny Bluestone, CEO and Founder of Cyber-Duck says, “Whether you are trying to pay utility bills online, order groceries, find gifts for friends and family, apply for a job or keep in touch over the holidays, no one should feel excluded because of poorly designed digital experiences, which are not inclusive.” 

Bluestone explains further that this inclusive mindset should be adopted at the first stage of a web design, “Accessibility guidelines are a tick box activity for some. But we and our campaign partners want to see more positive action taken to design with inclusivity in mind, creating accessible experiences, which benefit everyone. Accessibility can’t be an after-thought and can’t be solved with plug-ins.” 

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The campaign has been supported by key charities and initiatives including the Royal Association for Deaf People, Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion, para-sports

classification organisation LEXI, disabled children’s community Phab, digital disability awareness training platform AbilityNet, and the British Interactive Media Association, which supports the next generation of digital professionals through knowledge sharing and developing talent. This campaign alongside this powerful group of initiatives together have the power to create impactful solutions to improve the usability of digital products for everyone.

Take a look at the All I Want For Digital campaign here.

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DWP Plans to Replace Regular Disability Payments with One-Off Grants Spark Major Backlash

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DWP PIP

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has ignited a storm of controversy with its latest proposal to overhaul the personal independence payment (PIP) system. The proposed changes, which would replace regular PIP with one-off grants for some claimants, have been met with fierce criticism from disability rights advocates and the broader public.

The government’s consultation aims to modernize the disability benefit system by scrapping the “one size fits all” approach of PIP, according to Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride. The plan suggests that assessments could be eliminated for certain conditions, with the focus shifting towards providing claimants with one-off grants or vouchers for essential services and equipment instead of regular cash payments.

This radical shift is driven by the government’s concern over the “unsustainable rate” of the benefits bill, particularly due to the increasing number of mental health claims. However, critics argue that the changes would undermine the financial stability of disabled people, many of whom rely on PIP to manage their daily lives and additional costs associated with their disabilities.

James Taylor, from the disability equality charity Scope, expressed deep skepticism about the motivations behind the consultation, labeling it as a tactic to cut costs at the expense of vulnerable individuals. “Life costs a lot more for disabled people,” Taylor stated, emphasizing that removing a stable source of income would not address any societal issues but rather exacerbate them.

Research by Scope suggests that disabled households require an extra £975 per month to maintain the same standard of living as non-disabled households, highlighting the crucial role of PIP in bridging this financial gap. The proposed reforms could lead to significant reductions in income for disabled individuals, with PIP accounting for about 21% of their total income and even more for those in the lowest income brackets.

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The potential reform has also drawn criticism from Iain Porter of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who views it as an unjustified burden placed on those already facing significant challenges. He argues that the focus should instead be on addressing the root causes of ill health and poverty that affect millions in the UK.

The proposed changes have been further complicated by the recent findings of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which accused the UK government of failing to address systemic violations of disabled people’s rights. This international scrutiny underscores the need for reforms that genuinely support disabled individuals rather than pushing them further into hardship.

Critics are calling for a benefits system that is compassionate, tailored, and supportive, rather than punitive and cost-cutting. As the government moves forward with its consultation, the outcome will significantly impact the lives of millions of disabled persons across the UK, making it a critical issue of fairness and social justice in the lead-up to the general election.

As debates and discussions continue, it is clear that any changes to the PIP system must be handled with utmost care to avoid unintended consequences that could leave many of the most vulnerable in society at greater risk of poverty and exclusion.

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Starbucks and its commitment to accessibility: Creating inclusive spaces for everyone

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Starbucks Coffee Company announced on February 14th that it will leverage its growing store presence to support and promote the inclusion of partners, clients, and communities it serves. To achieve this, the company has created an Inclusive Spaces Framework, which aims to enhance independence, choice, and comfort for all its consumers and employees: “Building and scaling an Inclusive Store Framework is central to our mission of connection and will lead to greater access for all” stated Katie Young, Senior Vice President of Store Operations.

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One of the first Starbucks customers based on the Inclusive Spaces Framework/Starbucks

Starbucks’s Inclusive Spaces Framework has been developed by a distinctive community of customers, workers, partners, and accessibility experts, with the primary goal of providing scalable accessibility solutions for all commercial spaces. This concept began to take shape during the Covid-19 pandemic, where social distancing and the risk of contracting the disease prompted some branches to create specific time blocks. During these blocks, immunocompromised, elderly, and disabled customers could shop in a less crowded environment.

Starbucks inaugurates its first café supported by the principles of the Inclusive Spaces Framework

On February 16th, Washington, D.C. became the first city to open a Starbucks designed to provide accessible service for everyone. These innovations include a multitude of improvements, both physical and digital, that streamline the entire customer interaction process with the establishment and staff, enabling unrestricted access.

Starbucks

A new employee at the Washington D.C. Starbucks showcasing the facilities/Starbucks

Among these novelties, the coffee company has highlighted updates to the point-of-sale (POS) systems, which have been transformed into portable devices, making it easier for customers to make purchases and acquire products. Through an intuitive design, supported by a voice assistant and accompanied by visual confirmations, this setup caters to the needs of all customers without any distinction.

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On the other hand, this revamped store features new lighting and an improved sound system, both designed to offer a more inclusive experience by avoiding glare and reverberations. Additionally, the order tracking panels in this store have been updated, allowing customers to easily and instantly know which stage of preparation their purchase is in. Furthermore, multiple communication channels have been enabled to notify the customer when their order is ready.

Finally, the store has been designed to ensure the complete independence of people with disabilities when accessing and placing their orders. This is achieved through electric doors, which can be activated by a button at different heights and angles, reducing the effort required to open them. Additionally, continuous, and obstacle-free pedestrian pathways have been created, and the counters are lower with overhangs to accommodate wheelchairs, making interaction with employees and the store more accessible.

Starbucks

The new staff at Starbucks in Washington D.C./Starbucks

However, for most retail centers, remodelling their premises to comply with ADA (The Americans with Disabilities Act) regulations poses a significant challenge. That’s why Starbucks will not only begin remodelling its establishments but also ensure that its framework of inclusion is accessible to everyone, just like its stores. This framework will provide a gradual program for designing inclusive spaces that enhance the retail environment, surpassing the requirements of the ADA.

By: Álvaro Lago

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Aarti Sahgal: Creating A World In Which People With Disabilities Belong

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Disabilities

Aarti Sahgal is a woman with a mission. She is the founder and CEO of Synergies Work, a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs with disabilities develop sustainable enterprises. She is also a mother to two kids, one of whom has Down syndrome. She understands directly the obstacles and opportunities that individuals with disabilities experience in society, and she is committed to creating a world in which they belong.

Sahgal’s work grew out of her personal experience parenting a disabled child and discovering a lack of inclusivity and assistance in the education and employment systems. She recognized that people with disabilities possess special skills and capabilities that are frequently overlooked or underestimated by others. She chose to leave her corporate position and devote herself to enabling people with disabilities to achieve their hobbies and goals.

Disabilities

Synergies work provides end-to-end business solutions, bridging the opportunity gap between the disability and business sectors. It provides training, mentoring, funding, and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs with disabilities, as well as access to a varied and supportive community. It also collaborates with businesses and groups to increase disability inclusion and diversity in the workplace and marketplace.

Since its establishment in 2016, Synergies Work has assisted over 200 entrepreneurs, the vast majority of whom are women and people of color. The company aims to empower 1 million new entrepreneurs with disabilities by 2027 by collaborating with disability organizations and businesses that prioritize creating an inclusive ecosystem.

Sahgal aims to represent and reflect the different communities in which she works, as well as to foster a workplace climate in which everyone has the opportunity to participate, grow, belong, and succeed. Sahgal’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan aims to promote inclusivity and diversity as a source of strength and value.

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By- Rowland Obiosah

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