Annual report season is nearly upon us, so now is the time to take a meaningful and easy step toward walking the inclusion talk—make your annual report an accessible document.
Your annual report is a vital communications document serving many audiences. For public companies it is a key shareholder document for existing and prospective shareholders. A quick glance around a typical AGM for large companies shows many older people who have age-related onset of disabilities and rely on accessible information. For the general public it can be the first formal encounter with an organisation about corporate and regulatory information, as well as communicating the organisation’s approach to issues such as social inclusion and corporate social responsibility.
If you are a government department or agency, accessibility is a fundamental part of the anti-discrimination policy requirements that are enshrined in the National Transition Strategy (NTS) and the newly-adopted Digital Service Standard process for the Federal Government.
What’s an accessible document? It’s a digital document—commonly in PDF or Word format—that has been created or remediated so that people with vision-related disabilities in particular can access the document as if they were fully sighted.
Accessible documents also do more than help people with a vision-related disability. They help people with a cognitive or mobility-related disability, people from non-English-speaking backgrounds, those with varying education levels as well as older members of the community.
And, while there is growing awareness among organisations that their websites must be accessible to people with disabilities, so too is there growing awareness that documents hosted on your website—and especially ones as significant as annual reports—need to also be accessible.
Accessible documents are also rooted in sound business sense. If your customers can’t access your policy documents, publications, account statements, bills, forms, shareholder reports and other communications and information, how long do you think they will remain a customer?
The need for accessible documents also has a legal, policy and standards dimension such as complying with Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Section 5).
The bottom line is: All your digital publications and documents distributed online must be fully accessible and usable by people with disabilities.
A good place to start right now is by committing to making your next annual report an accessible one, and by contacting Media Access Australia about its Accessible Document Service.