As the pandemic raged across the globe restricting our movement, disrupting our social interactions, and increasing our dependency on online tools, we learned the critical need for greater digital accessibility.

Imagine what it would have been like if we couldn’t log on to order groceries, if we couldn’t read the text on a web page, or if we couldn’t hear the conversation happening on our video call? For many people with disabilities, products that improve digital accessibility is what gives them the ability to telecommute, speak with their doctors, and interact with others more easily.

Before the pandemic, online accessibility was moving forward, but at a crawl.  Just the year prior (2019), almost 99% of websites did not meet the standards set forth by the web content accessibility guidelines.  We as a community have work to do.

Poly & Microsoft Take a Leadership Position on Accessibility

As business and innovation leaders, we have the opportunity to build products, services, and digital tools that are inclusive, that deal with the challenges facing workers today – be it accessibility, safety from illness, or inclusivity amongst the workforce as our employees work remotely.

Early in the Pandemic, I was excited to see Poly & Microsoft’s Digital Inclusion Livestream move the conversation about digital accessibility and inclusiveness to action. Throughout the session, speakers shared their own personal stories and showed how the lessons we’ve all learned from the pandemic can be applied in the digital tools we use.

Today, on the eve of Global Accessibility Awareness Day – #GAAD, we’re excited to partner with Microsoft in support of its #Buildfor2030 campaign focused on enabling a more accessible future with products and services that enable inclusive hybrid workplaces.  Poly’s Adoption Services for Teams Workshop is being featured as part of #Buildfor2030 for its role in educating and motivating user communities about better ways of working with Microsoft Teams to drive digital inclusion and accessibility.

Hybrid Working Creates Opportunities and Challenges

This past year has also shown us how easy it is to feel alone and isolated. Even with the technology we have today, many of us didn’t feel truly involved in the activities going on at work, at school, or with our extended families. Did we miss an important conversation? Did we get passed by on a new work opportunity because we were ‘out of sight’?

Many companies transitioned to a new way of working both during the pandemic and as we go forward.  A work environment that provides both challenges and opportunities for promoting diversity and fostering inclusion.  Before the pandemic, many corporations had increased their commitment to and investment in diversity and inclusion efforts.

However, the changing work environment can impact individuals in different ways based upon their living situation, family structure, economic status, access to technology, and so forth.  All of which can perpetuate inequities in the workplace.  It is important we take steps now to strengthen diversity and inclusion in the workplace through new and different strategies.  That we ensure that all meetings or collaboration is done with an outside-in point of view.  That remote workers feel as much a part of the conversation as their peers that may be in a physical location together.  We as a community have work to do.

As individuals, we’ve all recently experienced what it feels like to not be able to do basic things.  Let’s take what we now know and apply it to building a better, healthier, more accessible and inclusive society as we move forward.

Together, we can live in a more equitable and just world.