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Making Video Communications More Accessible to All

Ben Renner

Ben Renner

Video communications are great for today’s office. Linking everyone working in different places together, spreading the same information to everyone all at once, and all the other benefits of informative, fast video communications give businesses an advantage, except for when accessibility problems come up.

Obviously, there’s a technical component in this problem. It could be your Information Technology staff and systems aren’t working correctly. It could be that the technology everyone has access to isn’t designed to handle your videos, or it could be that the online platform where these videos are stored has security issues. These are not easy problems to fix, and I don’t want to discount them, but technical causes of accessibility issues is not the focus of this article.

Instead, I want to look at broader barriers to useful online video content and how we can fix them. Making sure everyone in your organization can consume the same video content and have access to the same video communications tools usually involves greater investment of some variety. Even if you don’t buy a brand-new communications system or hire a company to set up a new system, you’ll have to spend time (or pay someone to spend their time) modifying your video content, your video content system or platform, or both.

Let’s look at a few common things that can act as barriers to widespread video communications use in organizations:

Company Culture

Culture, whether it’s our American culture or the company culture of a small company, can be slow to change. The more people involved doing things a certain way for a long time, the slower it is to change. When you introduce new ways of doing anything to your organization, from filing paperwork to getting information about employee benefits, you’re invariably irking and possibly alienating employees.

Dropping an entirely new communications system on your unsuspecting workers will not only cause accessibility issues, it might cause open rebellion. Communicating about a new way to communicate is crucial. At least make sure that, even if employees don’t ‘want’ to use the new video communications technology, they know why it’s there and the basics of how to use it.

Personal Ability to Use the System

The wordy subheading above was an attempt to include all groups who can’t easily use video communications tools because of disabilities or language barriers. We’ve been over the importance of translating your videos to different languages. But adding to that, knowing which language your workforce needs is important.

Another rising issue with the use of video in employee communication settings is the exclusion of those with disabilities. Back in 2010, President Obama signed the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), which mandated that people with disabilities have the right to access ‘advanced’ communications—digital, broadband, and mobile services and products. Smaller organizations with no people with disabilities (i.e. the blind, hearing impaired, etc.) don’t have to worry, but larger organizations that might have disabled employees, or that might have contractors and sub-contractors who have some kind of impairment, need to ensure that their digital communications are accessible by all.

It Takes Open Communication

You could say open communication can solve almost any problem, especially in a corporate setting. In this case, communicating about how any radical new system will work must be done long before the changes come, or accessibility to these digital resources will always be a problem. Even after the change, all employees must be assured that they can use the video communications resources now available to them.

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