As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we cheer ourselves by thinking of future socializing in-person. We also think about returning to work or activities we love. These hopes help us through the challenges of physical distancing. Moreover, these challenges show us that we can be more flexible or more creative than we thought we could. For instance, organizations, from media outlets to stores, have adapted to new ways of providing information during the pandemic. Many of these adaptations are also practices that make information more accessible for viewers with disabilities. More information is being offered online, in accessible formats, or with communication supports. In the post-COVID-19 future, more people may recognize the value of adapting information to meet citizens’ diverse needs. Consequently, more service providers may improve their accessible formats after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accessible Formats After the COVID-19 Pandemic
As businesses encourage people to stay home and contact them remotely, people rely more on online information. For instance, more people may now use apps to access store flyers instead of reading hard-copy print versions. Similarly, people may order groceries online rather than browsing store aisles in person. Moreover, these ways of accessing information online may be new to some customers. As a result, staff may be supporting customers by describing how their online services work, or troubleshooting remotely.
In short, businesses and other organizations have started adapting the ways they communicate in order to reach a wider audience. In the same way, organizations can just as easily provide more information in accessible formats. For instance, online information, from COVID-19 news to flyers about sales, reaches more people through websites accessible to computer users with disabilities. Websites become accessible by complying with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA, an international standard. When online information is accessible, computer users with disabilities can read it in many ways, including:
- Braille, through a Braille printer or Braille display
- Large print, using screen magnification software
- Audio, through screen reading software
Businesses and other organizations are becoming accustomed to providing information in different ways. These organizations may want to start making their information accessible, to welcome new viewers and customers. Furthermore, organizations that have started offering accessible formats may recognize their benefits and offer them on an ongoing basis.