In the ever-changing world of digital accessibility, it’s essential to remember that individuals with disabilities are the drivers of progress here. We are the experts that have been working hard to make our digital world more inclusive, and our predecessors have been at it since the advent of the internet itself. In addition, we have a right to speak for themselves when the questions being asked are about our needs. However, many people might not realize that, for many of us accessibility pros, working from home is the most suitable or the only option.
The Accessibility Divide
Imagine a workplace that isn’t easy to access for everyone. Someone in a wheelchair, can’t get inside, or get to their department or to their desk. In such a place, sensory overload might be a daily challenge, and getting around and fitting in might be almost impossible. Sadly, this is the harsh reality for many neurominorities and people with disabilities. The traditional office setting often creates major problems for these experts.
For people with different brain functions, like those in the neurominority, things like nerve pain and being overstimulated can make working in an office impossible, as the energy drain from the environment is siphoned away from our work and our wellbeing. People with mobility disabilities may find it hard to commute if public transportation isn’t available or fully accommodating. What’s more, financial disparities often mean that neurominorities and people with disabilities live in areas where the cost of living is lower and far from urban office centers.
Remote Work as a Lifeline
The field of digital accessibility has always done well with remote work. This industry is all about making the digital world work for everyone, no matter where they are or what physical challenges they face. Until recently, digital accessibility was a mostly remote industry.
Remote work has some great benefits for people working in digital accessibility. It doesn’t just make us more productive; it also makes our jobs more accessible and inclusive. We can choose our work hours, we don’t have to spend money, needed for healthcare, on professional clothes, and we save a lot on travel costs, time, and energy. For people dealing with ongoing health issues, flexible remote work lets us work when we’re feeling our best, rather than when we’re expected to be in the office, and it lets us maximize our energy by avoiding waste.
The Danger of Going Backwards
Lately, some companies have been moving jobs “back” into the office. Sadly, digital accessibility jobs are getting caught up in the effort. While this might look like things are getting back to normal for some, it’s important to understand the consequences.
This change leaves out experts who can only work from home because of our disabilities. When companies make people work in the office, they not only lose out on great talent, but also make the industry less diverse and ironically, less accessible. This puts at risk all the progress we’ve made in making digital spaces more inclusive, and it takes jobs away from disabled pros and gives them instead to able bodied replacements.
From my own experience, working on digital accessibility from home has been a lifeline. Being able to work remotely has let me have a job while also managing my health. I have a coworking space membership that I utilitize a few hours per week when I’m feeling my best. Otherwise, I can be found at home, working from my desk, a chair or the couch, in whatever spot decreases my chronic pain enough for me to focus best. Plus, it’s made me feel like I belong in an industry where being good at what you do is what matters, no matter where you’re working from, or which hours of the day you’re most productive.
However, the recent shift towards having to work in the office, even part-time, is very worrying. This change threatens the very idea of making spaces more inclusive, which is what the digital accessibility industry is all about. As someone who’s felt the huge benefits of remote work, I’m really concerned about what this change could mean.
Keep Accessibility Remote: What You Can Do
Remote work isn’t just about what’s convenient; for many professionals in digital accessibility, it’s a must. It’s been the driving force behind the progress we’ve made in this industry so far. Keeping remote work as an option isn’t just about convenience; it’s about making sure everyone can be part of this industry. It’s about inclusion.
As we move forward, it’s vital to remember how important remote work is in this unique field and in general. We need to speak up and make sure it stays an option, so experts with disabilities can keep doing their essential work. Remote work isn’t just about staying home; it’s about making sure our world works for everyone and our businesses have access to the right talent for the job.
Join the #KeepAccessibilityRemote Campaign
We invite you to join the #KeepAccessibilityRemote campaign. Share this article and use the hashtag on social media to tell everyone why it’s so vital to Keep Accessibility Remote. Let’s make sure our voices are heard, so digital accessibility stays a field that includes everyone. Together, we can create a world that’s accessible to all. #KeepAccessibilityRemote