It's day 5 of our special advent series, and we're addressing a post-pandemic setback: the decline in digital accessibility.
Remember how, during the pandemic, online platforms became more accessible for people with disabilities? It was a silver lining in a challenging time. But now, as we're moving away from pandemic restrictions, this progress is slipping. For example, the option to work remotely, a lifeline for many disabled people, is being rolled back in many organisations. This not only limits job opportunities but also the everyday participation in society for people with disabilities. Perhaps the biggest problem of all is that the physical workplaces people are now forced back into weren’t accessible in the first place the majority of the time.
Some have recently argued that ‘disabled people have a duty to work from home’ - this framing sucks! It implies that disabled people should avoid being a burden to their employers, instead of expecting their employers to fulfil their legal responsibility to have an inclusive workplace.
On the other hand, let’s acknowledge that working from home is not a silver bullet and it must not be considered as such - just because you can offer remote working options, that doesn’t mean you have an inclusive workplace. Accessibility and inclusion need to go further than offering online and remote options. They should be about genuinely accommodating diverse needs.
The pandemic proved that offering widespread digital options is achievable. As we see the world revert back to pre-pandemic practices, we must ask: why are we stepping back from these inclusive options? Why are we discarding the lessons we learned? Accessibility is a right, not a privilege.