A 2022 report by AbilityNet found that awareness of the need for accessible and inclusive digital services was growing amongst business leaders. But the report, Attitudes to Digital Accessibility 2022, found that there was still an awareness gap with only a fifth of respondents observing a “strong, organisation-wide commitment”. And only 6% said digital accessibility is central to their organisation.
The pandemic accelerated digital adoption, and highlighted the importance that digital solutions need to available and accessible to all. While improving knowledge and good intentions are encouraging, the mismatch between skills supply and demand is huge barrier to businesses and organisations developing truly inclusive products and services.
This creates a challenge for business leaders. Digital accessibility isn’t an optional extra. In competitive industries, the organisation that can make their service or product more accessible has a competitive advantage. For those providing public services, digital accessibility is key to providing equitable access to those services.
All of this requires a variety of digital and strategic skills and expertise within organisations. A recent survey from The Open University revealed that 69% of employers are struggling to recruit staff with adequate digital skills and 62% of employers say they are also struggling to upskill their current staff with adequate digital skills. In addition to this, the ISC found that “digital skills … are likely to look increasingly advanced, compared to what we might consider ‘basic’ to look like at present.”
A commitment to accessibility and inclusion is vital throughout the whole organisation across a wide range of roles and levels.
Solving this challenge is central to the UK’s digital inclusion agenda. This webinar, hosted by Priya Lakhani OBE and brought to you by The Open University, outlines why skills and expertise are vital to an organisation’s digital inclusion strategy. Our expert panel looks at how these skills can be developed in a smarter, more flexible way and how training and expertise can open up digital solutions for all.