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Adam Turner

How the Equality Act ensures the digital first agenda doesn't discriminate

Legislation Accessibility


Satya N. Nadella, Microsoft CEO, said recently:

“The backdrop of the global pandemic has made this an unprecedented time for all businesses and individuals worldwide, but one clear consequence has been reinforcing the criticality of digital interfaces to businesses and organizations everywhere, which also means reinforcing the criticality of digital accessibility along with it.” - May 2020

Website non-compliance has become a reality as organisations struggle to meet their legal obligations under the UK Equality Act and European Union Directive 2016/2102/EU. We’ve produced a summary of the regulations, which you can download: Accessibility and Equality Act – a review and commentary

The present approach to demonstrating compliance is an ad-hoc focus on WCAG issues. This approach, taken by many, fails to address the underlying problems which will lead to omnipresent non-compliance.  Not only that, but it is both expensive and plagued by human limitations through lack of knowledge

Most are missing the strategic approach and have a false sense of security that compounds compliance failure. This dilutes brand value and exposes organizations to unnecessary and repeated litigation. 

As part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), websites need to be socially responsible as well as legally compliant - 94% of websites are currently non-compliant evidencing the need for a new approach.

The future of work

There is no doubt that the effects of COVID-19 will have a permanent effect on the way organizations manage their workforce and their suppliers. 

The new urgency to support decentralised working, be it for competitive advantage or cost reduction, means no one can ignore the imperative to adopt a digital first approach.

This introduces new areas of HR responsibility with the potential to impact on employment litigation, akin to employers being required to provide appropriate training and comply with workplace health and safety. Digital upskilling for staff and suppliers, will need to be improved and formalized.

Sitemorse automates the delivery of training and competence monitoring, ensuring clients are ready as this increasingly important area of responsibility expands.

This training takes the form of brief videos and simple explanatory messages, which accompany the weekly prioritized actions. Addressing these actions improves your website as well as empowering your workforce to put the training into practice.

Emerging Risks

We are entering a new area of risk management. The key to digital operation is understanding and evaluating two emerging risks:

  1. Third party litigation, for compliance failures under the Equality Act and/or European Union Directive 2016/2102/EU, may arise from content failure, which may not just be from websites but also extranets, intranets and other internal systems.
  2. Internal litigation for failing in employer legal responsibilities may arise from failing to provide sufficient training and support.

A new generation of digital risk in relation to content failure litigation will need to be mitigated against.

When assessing the risk associated with decentralized working, automation is essential to ensure a consistent approach that can be scaled, whilst providing the maximum protection against potential litigation but at the same time, protecting the workforce.

Training

Automatic delivery - Just-in-time

Direct ‘just-in-time’ training materials are offered against actions, delivering immediate understanding and confidence in actioning. These videos provide help prevent the same issues being repeated.