Bridging the Digital Divide: Promoting Inclusive Content Interfaces

Girijesh Tripathi March 5, 2019
The internet revolution may have changed our lives for good, but is it really inclusive?As of 2015, 27% of adults with disabilities had never accessed the internet as opposed to 11% of non-disabled adults. Evidently, the digital divide is massive, as far as ease of content accessibility is concerned. This is despite the fact that the UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities recognizes the access to information and communications technologies, including the internet, as a fundamental human right. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jun/29/disabled-people-internet-extra-costs-commission-scope Digital exclusion doesn’t just exacerbate issues like social exclusion while spurring economic disadvantage. Rather, it has widespread legal repercussions as well. There were almost 1000 website accessibility lawsuits filed in State and Federal courts of the US within the first six months of 2018 and the number is expected to rise this year as well. Digital inclusion is intrinsic to creating a community where there’s civic and cultural participation, continuous learning, employment and access to critical services. And, it’s transformative power transcends individuals to bestow widespread economic and social benefits on a broader level. In an attempt to bridge the digital divide, we at Magic EdTech strive towards creating a more inclusive, accessible, democratic, and welcoming digital content landscape. We help our partners adhere to accepted principles for web accessibility, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1). Our initiatives around digital accessibility are focused on making content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities. We help create interfaces that can be used by people with low vision and blindness, hearing loss and deafness, speech issues, motor impairments, photosensitivity, learning disabilities, and cognitive limitations.    
The Need for Digital Accessibility
Truth be told, the internet wasn’t originally designed keeping everyone in mind. There are significant hurdles that prevent the sensory-impaired, mentally challenged, and the motor-impaired from accessing web content for the longest time. The visually impaired experience difficulties when content online is incompatible with the screen readers they use. Non-synchronized placement of text tabs on graphics and links are a problem for the hearing-impaired who depend on text-to-speech applications. A cluttered or poorly organized layout and limited navigation restricts users with motor impairments. Additionally, interactive content can completely exclude people with speech issues. For those who are already vulnerable and disadvantaged – there is a greater risk of being left behind as the world steps deeper into the digital age. It is this that concerns us the most and so here at Magic EdTech, we strive towards a culture of accessibility. Considering that several countries now have strict laws regarding digital content accessibility, we recommend not just implementing WCAG 2.1, but also going beyond these standards. Near-universal accessibility is at the core of every engagement we are involved in. We implement tools that make content accessible, observe their effects over time, work out areas for improvement, and implement those iterations.
How Magic EdTech Can Help
Literacy has always been a critical element for social inclusion, but in this age of digitization, digital literacy is just as important. Now that communications and information technology plays a crucial role in education, employment and civic engagement, people lacking digital literacy risk social, political and economic exclusion. Magic EdTech seeks to develop accessible products that allows the global learners community and users with disabilities to perform the same tasks as a non-impaired user interfacing with advanced technology. In addition, we also:
  • Provide end-to-end accessibility services.
  • Perform compliance audits for partners.
  • Recommend custom-made technological solutions that’ll work toward improving their accessibility outreach.
  • Leverage partnerships with best-in-class testing teams.
  • Generate detailed audit reports for companies that haven’t leveraged accessibility tools.
  • Create accurate voluntary product accessibility template (VPAT) reports to inspect whether companies meet global accessibility requirements.
  • Provide overall product accessibility scores to map them against compliance parameters.
  • Implement best-in-class accessibility assistive tools such as Dragon Speech, Braille, Speech Recognition, Trackballs, Switch Controls and Magnifications.
  • Arrange for alpha testing to check for product readiness prior to market release.
  The tools of digital accessibility have the potential to fundamentally change how people consume content. Considering the expansiveness of the internet, in order to bring about near-universal inclusivity, such tools should work in tandem with accessible learning resources, while being capable of retrofitting.  
Girijesh Tripathi

As a lead consultant for accessibility testing at Magic EdTech, Girijesh is actively engaged in testing of new class digital accessibility solutions for education.