In recent years, the issue of access and diversity in the tech industry has garnered increasing attention.

The lack of representation across various demographics has raised concerns, particularly when considering the widening digital skills gap.

While gender disparities have been a major focus of discussion, it is essential to broaden the conversation to include disability access and inclusion in the tech sector.

To shed light on this aspect, a new study has examined the experiences of disabled and non-disabled tech professionals in pursuing certifications.

The findings reveal a significant disparity between the two groups. Among disabled tech professionals, a staggering 63 percent have started but not completed a certification, compared to 41 percent of their non-disabled counterparts.

What are the most common obstacles?

Commenting on these findings, Caroline Fox, the Global EDI Strategy Lead at Jefferson Frank, acknowledged the substantial gap and stressed the need for greater accessibility and equity for disabled individuals in the tech industry. Fox also highlighted the most common obstacle reported by disabled tech professionals: lack of time. She pointed out that accessibility features may take longer to navigate, and the absence of such features on certain platforms can impede progress, leading to the need for additional breaks or accommodations.

Rob Koch, an AWS Hero, Principal at Slalom Build, and Founder of Deaf in the Cloud, discussed the importance of implementing accessibility features. He commended AWS for providing rotating sign language interpreters during live broadcasts on their Twitch channel. However, he also noted that platforms like Twitch still lack live captioning, which hinders accessibility. Koch emphasised that although initial setup costs may be involved, the ongoing running costs of accessibility features are relatively low. He expressed confidence that with the right resources, expertise, and tools, businesses can easily implement comprehensive accessibility measures.

What about individual differences?

Echoing Koch’s sentiment, Fox emphasised the need to consider individual differences in disabilities and learning styles. She stressed the importance of providing various formats and alternative methods to access information to ensure broader accessibility. Recognising that disabilities vary and each individual may have unique accommodation needs, Fox emphasized that offering a variety of content formats is vital.

In terms of concrete measures to support disabled tech professionals, Koch emphasised the significance of maintaining open lines of communication. He urged organizations to actively inquire about how they can assist individuals in their success. Koch highlighted that subtle oppression or lack of awareness may prevent disabled professionals from articulating their accommodation needs, underscoring the importance of open and honest conversations.

At the organisational level, Fox emphasised the need for businesses to create a platform where disabled professionals can voice their needs. Instead of providing predetermined accommodation options, she suggested allowing disabled individuals to drive the conversation and specify their requirements. Fox highlighted that preconceived notions of accommodations can hinder possibilities and discourage individuals from seeking the support they truly need.

 

 

 

 

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.