Are you maintaining accessibility when moving to the cloud?
One of the biggest innovations in workplace technology has been the advent of cloud computing. The Australian Infrastructure and Cloud Computing Market Study 2015 released by Telsyte projects that, by 2019, cloud services will be a $775 million industry.
As more companies are migrating to the cloud, it is important to make sure that all employees are benefiting from the technologies. Unfortunately, a cloud transition may create more burdens for workers with disabilities.
Cloud computing could cause complications
While a cloud migration can put companies ahead, it can leave workers with disabilities behind. A draft report by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Cloud Computing and Accessibility Considerations, examines a number of issues that workers may encounter with a move to cloud computing.
— NIST (@usnistgov) March 3, 2016
The NIST report identifies a number of potential issues with the integration of cloud computing and accessibility aids such as screen readers, speech recognition software, braille displays and captioning systems. These issues are based off of reports and input from US government employees about cloud-specific accessibility problems.
With cloud computing, there are a number of issues that can prevent accessibility software and devices from working properly, which can make it more difficult for employees with disabilities to perform work-related duties. Software updates, for instance, may prevent accessibility aids from working properly, while a reliance on internet browsers could introduce compatibility issues for users.
Workers with disabilities in Australia
Australian businesses moving to the cloud must be prepared to accommodate the needs of workers with disabilities when implementing cloud-based applications. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 14 per cent of working-age Australians had some form of disability in 2012. It is up to employers to ensure that they meet the needs of these workers with any new technology implementation.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), employers are required to provide equal opportunities for employment provided that a worker is able to perform the inherent requirements of a job. A data analyst, for example, must be able to work with large sets of information. He or she does not necessarily need to read that data. A visually impaired worker could use a braille or screen-reading program to perform those tasks.
In those instances, the DDA states that adjustments in the workplace should be made to accommodate workers with disabilities. Any concessions that must be made as a result of a cloud migrations are likely covered by the DDA as well.
Companies moving to cloud-based productivity solutions should take these needs into account in the planning stages to ensure a smooth transition for all workers.