What does Inclusivity, Diversity and Accessibility mean? How to put it into practice

Inclusivity, Diversity and Accessibility are not just buzzwords but they are essential in how business, society and we all feel involved. but what do they actually mean in real terms and how can we create a more inclusive, diverse and accessible world? 

In simple terms, we live in a diverse world but not everyone is or feels equally represented, included and is given the access to opportunities. 

There has rightly been a focus on ensuring more workplaces and spaces have a diverse range of people working for the organisation, especially those from underrepresented communities because a diverse workforce makes a better workforce. 

But not only that a more equal society makes a happier society -and all of this is proven. 

Diversity is defined as:

the fact of many different types of things or people being included in something; a range of different things or people.

 

Inclusivity is defined as:

the fact of including all types of people, things or ideas and treating them all fairly and equally.

 

Exclusivity however is:

the right to have or do something that is limited to only one person or organization.

 

Accessibility is defined as:

the fact of being able to be reached or obtained easily.

But we’ve also moved from just diversity and accessibility which provide pathways and opportunities towards inclusivity.  We’ve also started to hear the word equity rather than just equality. 

Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity acknowledges that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.

How do these all fit together? 

Diverse teams layered with inclusive workplaces contribute to successful companies and spaces, explained Jennifer Marsden-Lambert in a Digitally Active project session for CoActive Arts Charity.

CoActive’s tagline is a ‘place to belong’ which for me sums up what inclusivity is.

This was echoed in a Channel 4 online training I attended by Jasmine Dotiwala, in which she said: “If staff feel like they belong, then it’s a healthy place.” 

She advised you to look through the lens of organisations through this.

“Teams should feel reflected, respected and diverse teams matter because they add an extra layer to it.”

Jasmine said that many people ask her ‘how can we move the needle on our diversity gap?’

She replies: “Don’t ask that – ask your team not ‘the experts’ – ask your team if they feel like they belong?”

Pick up themes and topics of main content that people talk about  – and explore issues around it. 

“To build your audience and create a trusted community, you’ve got to listen to them, make them feel involved.” 

Change might look differently in all your companies. But remember Black, Asian and disabled staff feel more vulnerable than others. 

Such ‘marginalised communities ‘who we call experts by lived experience’ tend to suffer from a higher rate of mental health problems due to a range of factors including inaccessibility to healthcare and feeling excluded. 

What we can learn from successful content creators about inclusivity? 

Streamers are popular because they are constantly listening, interacting with and responding to their audience. 

“Advocating for inclusion, means our industry can be more successful,” added Jasmine. 

I myself find myself being used as a ‘diversity tick box’ which is ok in the sense it has given me access to opportunities but all too often I end up in places where I don’t feel I belong. 

This is only sustainable for a certain period of time. 

That said, just because I am from a certain background doesn’t mean I represent everyone in my community. 

How can we work towards a more inclusive and accessible world? 

We need to have people from a range of backgrounds in our teams. Rather than trying to mimic their voice we need to engage and recruit people from these backgrounds. 

We then need to ensure everyone feels included and has their voices heard. 

For me, accessibility is ensuring the open pathway/door for someone to access a workplace or group for example. Then it’s more likely that we can have a healthier happier diverse space, but to create an equal and happy place is for me where inclusivity comes in. For me it’s an evolving funnel where you need everything in tandem to achieve a better environment for all. 

Digital Accessibility: 

Statistically speaking, people are most likely to be excluded from digital spaces if they are living with a disability, experiencing poverty, facing language barriers or long-term health conditions; and in Leeds alone, tens of thousands of adults are offline or lack essential digital skills – with that number rising to 11.9 million people across the UK – but how can organisations benefit from improving accessibility?

The Purple Pound is the estimated spending power of disabled households (disabled people and their families) in the UK. Currently (in 2020) it is thought to be worth £249 billion (and is expected to increase year on year).

“70% of UK websites currently exclude 20% of the population which means that these site visitors never return. By making simple changes to the website, we can improve how long visitors stay on the website, and who can access the information,” said Adam from Fallen Leaf Web Design.

So by shutting out disabled people from online sites and content not only is it unethical but it’s a bad business decision. 

Could you imagine saying ‘this shop doesn’t welcome disabled people?’ 

But the good news is we can make changes to our websites and our content. 

Plus content creators tend to be more trusted by their audience than traditional media outlets these days and we can all become powerful content creators in our own right even if we might be seen as a ‘micro influencer’ we can still ensure we have maximum impact. 

How do we move towards creating more accessible content? 

When it comes to neurotypical and neurodivergent people for example there is often an empathy gap and lack of understanding. 

So co-production is important, sharing insights from one another.

Co-production is a means in which those who typically deliver services work alongside ‘service-users’, creating reciprocal relationships to achieve a collective outcome. 

Those using or experiencing a service or product are in the best place to design it. 

For example, someone autistic is best place to co-produce a service or product for someone who is autistic. 

Here are some accessibility suggestions from Jennifer Marsden: 

  • Use plain language
  • Use left to right alignment
  • Provide #alttext
  • Use headings to introduce content
  • Offer trigger warnings
  • Use lists
  • Keep it brief
  • Give links to detailed info
  • Check for seizure triggers
  • Provide captions
  • Make transcripts available
  • Use large text wherever possible
  • Don’t rely on colour alone to convey information
  • Use a simple, Tips to make sure any images or videos you share are accessible:

Twitter business shared these tips too: 

  • Always add a clear and concise alt text to your image shares — aim for alt text between 150-250 characters
  • Use closed captions in your videos for people who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Check graphics or images in an accessibility tool
  • Limit your use of emojis or use words alongside them, so your message is clear even if the emoji can’t be viewed

We also recommend using ‘CamelCase’ and capitalizing the first letter of every word within your hashtags. This makes them easier to read and accessible for people using voice assistive technologies for hearing. For more actionable tips check out their Help Centre article on how to make images accessible.

If you don’t know where to begin or need some more inspiration, start to follow and use inclusive hashtags. Below is a list to get you started.

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