Accessibility Driving Digital Transformation 

Post-pandemic life has seen a dramatic increase in online interactions. Engaging services, managing health and finances, or consuming the latest news and entertainment requires extensive reading. Unfortunately, much of the content is created in legacy authoring tools and lacks modern techniques to make them accessible. Accessibility mandates have proven to be a challenge for many organizations and are a top priority to help improve customer experience and avoid litigation.

Accessibility is essential to ensure all users access content and information to conduct business and enjoy life. These regulations apply equally to internally and externally facing content. The benefactors of accessibility are typically thought to be only visually impaired users; however, those with underlying conditions such as dyslexia, ADHD, illiteracy, and users with native language barriers benefit from the accessibility regulations by making content easier to consume.  

As businesses continue to push more digital content to consumers, society is experiencing a digital overload. Encountering poorly crafted communications not designed for digital consumption will leave consumers more confused and less satisfied. Accessibility plays a vital role in the digital transformation of customer communications and customer experience content. Creating compliant content is the requirement of accessibility mandates. But generating consumable content that can be easily recited, indexed for searching, and structured to allow users to navigate quickly has become a primary objective for increasing customer satisfaction and lifetime value of a consumer.    

As a community, we need to provide solutions, services and best practices guidelines to unify accessibility, customer communications and customer experience management. As businesses reduce physical communications, the number of digital interactions will increase. Unfortunately, the sheer number of existing legacy applications makes it impossible to remediate in a reasonable amount of time. For example, if you have 500 communication applications and each takes one week to remediate, that's 500 weeks or nearly ten years of programming time. Application remediation is a viable approach but not one that will achieve compliance in a reasonable time frame or cost, so we'll have to address the problem on multiple fronts.

There are four basic ways of achieving accessibility compliance; Creating new communications using capable authoring tools that can tag and apply the best-practice capabilities. The second approach is to take the content generated by authoring solutions and run a post-composition batch process to dynamically add the necessary tags and sequencing to render compliant communications. The remaining option is for previously developed communications stored on a web portal or within a document archive.

This would require an ad hoc capability to transform the content, just in time, upon request.

There's a distinct difference between archived documents and web presented content and the transformation approach. First, not all archived documents will require transformation. Many will live their days and never be retrieved, whereas web content, like provider directories, policy descriptions or manufacturing user manuals, may be requested hundreds of times per day. In this scenario, it's best to pre-emptively transform the content to avoid excessive transformation services.