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Workplace Diversity And Accessibility In Australia

“1.8 million Australians under 60 years of age who have a physical or mental disability”

Closely akin to the world of accessability is the world of diversity. We hear a lot about the disabled but who are they and how many are there out there? In Australia we have something like 20 million people but 4.4 million of those were born overseas and large numbers use english as a second language or not in any significant manner. There are another 3.5 million second generation with parents born overseas. Add to that 1.8 million Australians under 60 years of age who have a physical or mental disability of some kind.

So workplace diversity is closely related to accessibility. I’m expecting much of Europe would have the same issues and I saw some figure on how much of the United States would be born overseas although I’ve lost the link to the figure. Its large. Very.

As a web developer should you read these figures and ask yourself what the hell you need to worry about those BLIND people for? Or, and I’d ask your clients this, do you want a slice of the business pie coming from actually making your sites accessible to this often, and in many ways, less than catered for potential customer sector?

I wrote an essay for BMA121 Management of Human Resources in summer school at the Sandy Bay Campus of the University of Tasmania covering the issues relating to workplace diversity. Its not a bad essay and pulled 90% from a hard marker so its better written than the essay I posted on ethics. While it is not directly about accessibility one only has to see the emphasis on diversity in organisations to realise - hopefully - it exists on the web and in every aspect of business.

The essay - Issues Relating To Workplace Diversity in Australian Organisations (PDF 57KB) - is around 2000 words so its not a tome either.

One of the most often repeated mistakenly idiotic statements I have muttered back at me time and time again is that there are hardly any disabled people and they don’t use the web anyway. Stop saying that. People working with you every day are disabled - literacy, numeracy, language, eyes, ears, cognitive ability, trauma, motor skills, mental illness, phobia, anxiety disorders, poverty is still a disability in my book and one that is always ignored [mmm I may rant on poverty in a day or so].

If your client knew how big that basket of potential customers was there would be hell to pay for not opening the way to retrieve their good money.

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