The topic of accessibility isn’t new, but it has gained significant traction over the past several years. For one thing, new accessibility laws have cropped up around the globe, seeking to make the world a more accessible place for everyone. The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund accredits this to the American Disabilities Act (ADA), which serves as the model for countries around the world. Since its enactment, more than 45 countries have also passed some form of disability anti-discrimination legislation. Accessibility awareness has impacted life in all corners of the globe, including for those in the boardroom.
On top of that, the pandemic has led to a major uptick in virtual meetings and remote board management across companies and nonprofits everywhere, and with that has come a stronger awareness for digital accessibility accommodations. When thinking about accessibility, you must now think about more than physical accommodations such as ramps and bathrooms. We’re expanding to make information easier to access, too, and that has a direct impact on who’s at your organization’s board table. (Read More: Boardable’s Feature in Forbes)
While those who join the board may articulate their access needs, it’s up to you to be on top of these accommodations, starting with selecting the right board software to make their work doable. Over the course of this short guide, we’ll break down the following ideas regarding the importance of digital accessibility and the right board software’s role in enhancing your board members’ experience:
At Boardable, we’ve worked with thousands of boards to enhance the board experience. After listening to our customers and conducting extensive research, we’ve refined (and are constantly improving) our board management software based on their needs, resulting in a much more equitable and accessible boardroom.
The past year and a half have been characterized by a completely new working landscape. Especially as many businesses and nonprofits are shifting to a hybrid environment, organizational leaders like you have to rethink how they can accommodate everyone’s needs and make board service equitable for people in various locations, which is vastly dependent on the technology that’s implemented.
Accessible board software opens up participation to a much wider range of candidates, no matter their accommodation needs. Organizations that prioritize accessibility in the boardroom and make accessible technology choices often experience the following:
Overall, a more accessible board is a more welcoming board for everyone. Technology can naturally make your board service more accessible, but certain software solutions and features will maximize the potential of your board’s accessibility capabilities. Let’s take a look at the tools that put these benefits in reach.
When looking for the right tools for your team, look into the software’s compliance features. Having the right board portal accessibility features can help accommodate auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual disabilities.
Here at Boardable, we continuously strive to create software that’s convenient and available to everyone. As part of those efforts, our software offers accessibility options to accommodate a wide range of needs in compliance with the standards of the ADA and WCAG 2.1 A, AA, and AAA. Here’s a glimpse at our Accessibility Menu:
Let’s take a closer look at some of these top board portal accessibility features that can help foster a more inclusive board, including the Screen Reader, contrast options, text readability tools, and the ability to pause animations.
A major part of improving information access is making documents and other information electronically available. Tools like our Screen Reader give individuals who are blind or visually impaired the ability to interact with and understand this content.
The Screen Reader will read the content aloud to the user to make it digitally accessible, and our platform offers three options in regards to the reading speed:
Normal: the reader speaks at a normal speed.
Fast: the reader speaks at a fast speed.
Slow: the reader speaks slightly slower than normal speed.
With these options, users can pick the speed that suits their needs and helps them best understand the content. No need for board users with visual limitations to rely on someone else to read the information to them when they can enable the screen reader and select their preferred reading speed with just a few clicks.
Not everyone perceives colors the same way. When it comes to dyslexia, light sensitivity, color blindness, and generally poor vision, it can be difficult for some people to easily see certain color combinations. To make content visible and digitally accessible, our board portal offers the ability to adjust the contrast (i.e. the relationship between the foreground and background colors) for text, images, and other elements.
Boardable provides four options to adjust the look and feel of the screen, allowing users to choose from the following options:
Invert Colors: everything light turns dark and vice versa.
Dark Contrast: this changes the screen to a dark background with bright-colored menu options.
Light Contrast: this changes it to a white background with dark menu options.
Desaturate: colors are muted and it has a more black-and-white feel.
Providing these accommodations ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to read documents, participate in polls, view meeting details, and complete anything else that’s on their to-do list. Plus, these contrast options can actually promote digital accessibility for every board member by reducing eye strain for those who might not typically deal with visual impairments.
There’s a lot that your board members have to read, which can be difficult if the text is illegible due to it being too small or in a hard-to-read font.
Boardable comes equipped with several features to make text easier to read across the entire platform, whether someone wants to reference a document their committee chair shared, view the details for an upcoming meeting, check on progress toward the goals your board set, or even just navigate to different parts of the portal.
Improve comprehension with text-related options such as the ability to:
Increase text size. Choose from four text-size options to improve readability, which is also helpful to people using smaller devices.
Change the text spacing. Choose from light, moderate, or heavy spacing between letters and words.
Adjust the line height. Increase the white space between lines of text up to two times the original spacing.
Change the font. Provide a better reading experience for people with dyslexia by enabling the Dyslexia Friendly Font Feature, which makes letters and numbers more clearly defined.
There are a handful of other text-related board portal accessibility features that make content more digitally accessible to everyone, between highlighting links and aligning text to be more readable. That way, everyone has the opportunity to interact with the content you share and come fully prepared to your board meetings.
Flashing or moving animations can be highly distracting and potentially dangerous to some users. Without an option to pause or hide it, they’ll be unable to focus or stay on the page, causing them to miss out on vital information.
Boardable enables users to stop animated, blinking, and flashing content to minimize distractions. This option is also essential to individuals with low vision, people prone to seizures, and those triggered by visual stimuli.
Beyond the features we covered here, Boardable offers plenty of accessibility features to make content easy to interact with. Other board portal accessibility features your team might appreciate include the ability to hover over various graphics to view descriptive alt text, search for definitions of words in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary without leaving the portal, choose from different languages, and increase the size of the cursor to make it easier to spot.
An accessible boardroom is a well-rounded boardroom that can think outside the box and connect with everyone regardless of their abilities. As a final reminder, make sure to inquire about your software provider’s accessibility policy and compliance features, so you can provide the best board experience for everyone who comes your way. Knowing whether your provider prioritizes digital accessibility can be a big indicator of the quality of their entire platform, showing how seriously they take board engagement and inclusion.
If you’re looking to make a large push toward a more inclusive and accessible boardroom, try out Boardable. We offer a free trial so that you can see the software in action and test out all our features before fully committing.
We strive to create an environment that’s fully accessible to everyone, no matter what accommodations they need. If you have any ideas for how Boardable can promote digital accessibility and inclusivity, please submit a feature request through chat or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to learn more about these board portal accessibility features and how to enable them? Check out our support articles:
Overview of Accessibility. Get a sense of the various accessibility features within our board software with this summary page.
Accessibility Options in Boardable. Learn about our board software’s accessibility features in-depth, including steps to enable them within the Accessibility Menu.
Read about Boardable’s feature in Forbes: Boardable Launches Accessibility Tools to Make Board Meetings More Inclusive.