The digital age has the potential for encompassing the diversity of access needs in society and creating a more inclusive world.
Yet accessibility barriers are limiting many people from using a variety of digital technologies and fully sharing in the vibrant and universal transformation of our society.
The Digital Gap Initiative (DGI), or e-gap project, will aim to contribute to efforts in Australia and internationally to close this gap.
Our primary focus is on systemic change.
In this digital age, there is a stark lack of reference to digital accessibility and inclusion in Australia’s legislative and policy framework.
At present, remedy to barriers to digital accessibility is through a complaints process to either the Australian Human Rights Commission or one of the anti-discrimination bodies at the State or Territory level.
The Digital Gap Initiative (DGI) will aim to connect with stakeholders and experts across disciplines and the public and private sectors, towards exploring and developing legislations, standards, policies and implementation strategies, which would:
- encompass the full spectrum of digital technologies and services that have become central to our lives;
- shift away from piecemeal change through disputes and litigation, towards regulations and compliance mechanisms for systemic change;
- include review mechanisms to reduce lag between technological progress and the law;
- apply to the government and the non-government sectors;
- set proportionate requirements or exemptions as appropriate for individuals, the community sector, small businesses and so on;
- Address the question of digital security measures where they impact inclusive access.
Recognising that no one pathway can bring about change, the Initiative will also pursue a broader strategy which will include:
- where feasible, influence public and private sector policies and programs that will generate inclusion and minimise the impact of digital accessibility barriers on educational and employment opportunities, independence and social interactions in Australia;
- promote alternative dispute resolution avenues where practicable;
- advocate for coding and other training programs to teach accessibility at primary, secondary and tertiary level;
- advocate for occupational accreditation benchmarks to ensure quality of professional services in the digital accessibility sphere;
- support awareness raising initiatives;
- promote the role of accessibility practitioners and applied accessibility solutions;
- support innovative accessibility research;
- promote the flow-on benefits of digital inclusion to business and the wider community;
- connect with international efforts, including lobbying the United Nations to declare an International Year focusing on closing the digital gap globally.
DGI will operate based on building a network of people committed to these ideals. DGI will advance its goals through its website, social media, consultations and other pursuits.