Happy New Year. People with disabilities are gaining recognition as a significant and growing market for products and services. This will only strengthen as we turn the corner.
By using accessible technology, people with disabilities can make their needs and expectations known. Now that people with disabilities have emerged as an untapped force, we are directly positioned to lead the future development of accessible technology.
I am so honored and proud to announce my new book on employment of persons with disabilities. The book was written from the employer's perspective and will be published in early 2016 by G3ict (www.G3ict.org). I will send out an announcement on my website and social media when the book is available.
In 2009, I began to volunteer for a global non-profit called G3ict. I loved their mission to help ensure ICT Accessibility and reduce the digital divide. They work with countries all over the world helping them create policies and solutions to sign, ratify and implement the CRPD. I am proud to be part of their Advisory Board and their Employability and Technology Chair.
The book addresses three topics:
1. Employment: Help employers understand the market value of including Persons with Disabilities (PwD) in the workforce
2. Accessibility: Learn the advantages of making products and services accessible to all
3. Marketing: Point out the multi-dimensional benefits in marketing to customers with disabilities
The book was created to build awareness about the need to reduce the digital divide, employability and to educate countries and organizations about the need to blend accessibility into the DNA of ICT.
How do you build disability inclusion and accessibility into the DNA of ICT? You create a strategic roadmap, track and measure your progress from the enterprise level, create accessible customer and employee experiences, create policies and procedures that assure full access, build accessibility requirements in your procurement, educate and train your team on accessibility and use global standards like W3C, WCAG 2.0.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that globally 1 in 7 persons have a disability, 1 billion people or about 15% of the population. These numbers will continue to grow for many reasons especially due to aging societies. Think about the implications - would you want to build a system that 15% of your customers could not access?
Countries all over the world have joined the accessibility and digital divide efforts to ensure inclusive education, employment, transportation and ICT for everyone. Each country is trying to solve these issues in ways that best support their citizens and culture. One way is by trying to understand the impact and solutions to the problem. Many countries feel that legislation, policies, and training can help everyone get on the same page. A great example is the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). To date over 160 countries have signed the CRPD.
Society wins when everyone can participate. Assuring full access to the internet, communications, and technology (ICT) is critical for access. Persons with disabilities add great value to the workforce and we have the research to prove that claim.
I believe it is also critical to use social media to educate, tell stories, build awareness and spread the message that society works better when we can all participate. We help organizations and countries create sustainable policies and strategies to disability inclusion and accessibility for all.
I co-founded #AXSChat a weekly tweet chat on Tuesday's at 3pmEST with Neil Milliken and Antonio Santos of ATOS. We selected a time that would allow as many time zones to join these important discussions about disability inclusion and accessibility. We are now the largest tweet chat in Europe and UK and top five in the US and globally.
Please join us on twitter for #AXSChat (www.AXSChat.com) each Tuesday at 3pmEST. Your voice will add value to the global conversations about empowering persons with disabilities in the workforce, ICT Accessibility and full inclusion to society.
Join me on social media my handle is @debraruh or follow these hyperlinks: Twitter; LinkedIn; Facebook; Pinterest; Tumblr; G+; Instagram; Medium; YouTube; and Klout. I believe that social is better when we all participate so follow me and I will follow you back. Thanks for joining me to assure we can all fully participate in society. You can also learn more about our work at www.RuhGlobal.com.