According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 61 million people in the U.S. live with a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability. That is why it is critical to ensure that the language used for websites, web applications, and broader written materials is accessible to all users, particularly those individuals with disabilities. So you might be wondering, what is accessible language? Accessible language is communication that accommodates people of all ages and abilities, including those with cognitive disabilities, individuals with low literacy skills, and people from a non-English speaking background. In addition, the usage of complicated or unclear language poses challenges for users seeking to understand the content. By increasing the number of people who can understand the content presented by your company, you will be able to reach a wider audience and create a more inclusive experience for all users.
Tips for writing clear and comprehensive content:
- Use text alternatives. Alternative text is a textual substitute for content such as images and other multimedia. By adding descriptions of the content represented, you can increase the number of users who will experience your content thoroughly.
- Use familiar language. Adapt your language to your audience. Identify the potentially unfamiliar words within the text, along with definitions for unusual terms and abbreviations.
- Make text understandable. It is crucial to make sure the content on your website is understandable to broad audiences. Making the information easy to understand can help ensure that software applications such as assistive technology can process and convey the content accurately.
Accessible Language in ADR
It is vital to facilitate sessions that encourage accessible language to make arbitrations or mediations accessible and inclusive when it comes to alternative dispute resolution. Ensuring that all materials and information are clear enough for participants to understand is just one way to make the mediation or arbitration accessible. Considering how the materials need to get circulated to be the most accessible is also essential. “For example, a disputant with blindness or visual impairment may need materials in large print, Braille, or electronic form, but advance preparation can allow for such accommodation without much difficulty or time” (Simmons, Martha E.). Making careful inquiries about the individual needs of the participants will allow you to create specific accommodations to help make the process accessible.
Making your content more accessible will create a brand and reputation that proves to value inclusivity. In turn, this will allow you to increase your footprint by reaching more audiences and create and maintain processes that will continue connecting users to the resources and information they need. These practices are essential because they help reduce the burdens to equality that individuals with disabilities face. Deliberately using accessible language and consistent and obvious design elements is a powerful way to show our support for the inclusive and diverse community that participants want to engage with. It requires work but isn’t that what we want to do as ADR providers?