ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Given the record-breaking 7.8 million disabled employees currently in the workforce, the importance of software accessibility has reached new heights. Capterra’s 2023 Tech Accessibility Survey of disabled workers found that 82% think software is important to do their job effectively, yet nearly half (45%) rated the number of accessibility features as fair to poor.
“With the number of employees with a disability at an all-time high, it’s time companies move past compliance into inclusion for this community—and that extends to software,” says Brian Westfall, principal HR analyst at Capterra.
Digital workspaces pose unique challenges for disabled employees, raising the attention of the EEOC, which issued revised guidance for employers. A notable 57% of employees with disabilities indicate that without tailored accommodations or accessibility features, navigating their job’s software can become difficult. Focusing specifically on employees with blindness or low vision, this figure jumps to 67%.
Accessibility needs vary by disability. Employees with blindness or low vision emphasize the need for customizable fonts (40%), while those with a physical disability want keyboard shortcuts and enhanced navigation features (37%).
“It’s going to take software buyers demanding accessibility for software vendors to start prioritizing it in their products,” says Westfall. “But really, this benefits everyone. Even employees without a disability can make use of features to customize systems to their preferences and be more productive.”
Employers do well with accommodations, but vendors have work to do. Nearly all (93%) disabled employees who use employer-provided accommodations rate them as good or excellent. However, 38% overall rate the quality of accessibility features in software applications as fair or poor, with the number rising to 46% among those with blindness or low vision. Over half (53%) with intellectual, developmental, or learning disabilities rate the number of features as fair to poor.
AI also has the potential to significantly enhance the productivity of disabled employees. Almost all (77%) believe that AI advancements in software will bolster their job efficiency. This can present in features like predictive text in messages, real-time visualizations of data, or actionable recommendations. AI can go from an efficiency booster for a nondisabled employee to the difference between usable and unusable for disabled employees.
Most workers with a disability (76%) agree that employers should prioritize accessibility more when purchasing software in the future. The full report offers additional findings, expert analysis, and recommendations to help HR leaders in cultivating more inclusive and agile teams that drive business growth.
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