According to the World Health Organization, roughly 15 percent of the global population lives with some form of disability; in the United States alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in four US adults—61 million Americans—have a disability that impacts major life activities.
Despite the proliferation of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, tools, and overall sentiment, people with disabilities are often overlooked, although they constitute a sizable portion of the world’s population. Per a ten-year study conducted by Global Disability Inclusion, employees with disabilities are significantly less engaged at work and their employment experiences rank lower than those of all other groups.
IEEE is committed to providing an accessible digital experience to all individuals, including those with disabilities, for equity in earnest.
In support of this commitment, IEEE provides the following:
- IEEE.org, the organization’s corporate website, strives to comply with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 to make the organization’s online presence more accessible.
- IEEE Xplore®, the organization’s digital library that serves as a powerful resource for the discovery of scientific and technical content published by IEEE, has committed to making its properties more accessible and has informed its efforts by W3C’s WCAG 2.1 recommendations.
- Governance: Accessibility is woven into the fiber of IEEE Digital Governance Guidelines, which support thousands of IEEE websites managed by staff and volunteers.
- Tools and resources: IEEE recognizes Global Accessibility Awareness Day each year with various activities for staff, including internal communications focusing on accessibility tools, tips, and resources through the IEEE Brand Experience Bulletin. Staff and volunteer site managers tasked with addressing accessibility concerns on select web properties are communicating consistently.
Beyond ensuring adherence to recommended international guidelines, IEEE.org and IEEE Xplore work continuously to develop innovative methods focused on retooling their design and capabilities on their digital properties to consistently optimize accessibility for end users.
Community engagement and voluntary products assessments
A key part of WCAG accessibility compliance on IEEE Xplore is providing a Voluntary Product Assessment Template (VPAT). This self-evaluation document gives administrators and librarians confidence that IEEE Xplore is following WCAG guidelines and helps identify areas where alternatives might be needed to accommodate all users.
Additionally, the IEEE Experience Design team offers internal site reviews for new and/or redesigned websites. The site reviews provide a heuristic evaluation that scores digital properties on their accessibility features, among other digital components; identify potential accessibility-related issues; and generate actionable recommendations for improvement.
IEEE also deploys a virtual user experience lab that helps site owners self-assess their websites using industry-recommended tools to identify and proactively correct accessibility and other user-experience-related issues.
Likewise, IEEE Xplore focuses on ensuring continuous accessibility including research centered on best practices and tools, usability testing, and third-party accessibility audits.
IEEE understands that there is room for continuous improvement when it comes to accessibility. The organization is committed to collaborating with industry experts and end users to implement innovative solutions focused on expanding accessibility across its digital properties.