Suddenly Virtual: The Importance of Making Virtual Tools Accessible for People with Disabilities

June 11, 2020

While the need for virtual work, services, and events continues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, explicit consideration must be made to ensure that the technology being used is accessible to members of the disability community. At this point in time, technology is a communication lifeline for most people, so the opportunity to connect with ease should be extended to people of all abilities. It is critical to know the accessibility features of the technology being employed and how to operationalize those features in order to ensure that virtual work, services, and events are inclusive. 

The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development has released a new toolkit, Accessibility in a Virtual Environment, authored by research associate Liana Volpe MPP ’18. It reviews the accessibility features of some of the most popular technology tools and services for virtual connection and collaboration. This includes services for: 

  • Voice and conference calls;
  • Video conferencing;
  • Collaboration, productivity, and document creation and sharing; and
  • Messaging.

As workforce professionals and service providers continue to plan and offer virtual services and events, it is important to understand that individuals’ accessibility needs are unique. This requires flexibility and openness to exploring a variety of technology tools and services to meet the needs of customers. As we all continue to navigate the suddenly virtual world, we must give thought to ensuring equal opportunity and access to technology tools and services for people with disabilities.

Download the Toolkit (PDF)

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