UniSC launches 'Inclusive Digital Design for Business' course to foster accessibility and inclusion in the digital age | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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'Inclusive Digital Design for Business' course to foster accessibility and inclusion in the digital age

Can you remember the last full day in which you didn’t use your phone, computer, or other form of technology? Digital communications are nearly inescapable in our modern lives, from social media to Google, booking essential services, paying bills, signing digital forms, and of course, online retail.

But, for people with mobility, sensory, sociocultural, demographic, or neurological differences, there are often barriers they face in accessing the digital communications others take for granted.

Accessing digital communications has become a fundamental human right, recognised by the Australian Human Rights Commission, and is a key finding of the recent Royal Commission into Disability.

To empower businesses to create digital experiences that contribute to building a more inclusive society, UniSC is offering a fully online, eight-week ‘Inclusive Digital Design for Business’ course.

This Commonwealth endorsed course was co-developed with the Centre for Accessibility Australia (CFA Australia), to highlight the challenges people encounter when trying to access digital content, and help participants develop the skills to ensure their content meets the legal and regulatory requirements for accessibility.

CFA Australia's CEO, Dr Scott Hollier, has lived experience of disability as a person who is legally blind, and said there are several arguments to support inclusive design, starting with the simple fact that “it’s a great thing to do.”

“We live in a global society, and the internet is a global medium, so the way we communicate online is not just powerful, but essential,” Dr Hollier said.

“People with disability represents trillions of dollars of spending power. If your business is not supporting inclusive design, you are missing out."

“It also supports employment. People with disability statistically work harder and smarter, are more dedicated to their employer and safer, so making our digital workspaces accessible expands these opportunities.”

And, considering it’s a legal requirement, Dr Hollier said this course can “help businesses understand how to ensure content is legally compliant and avoid discrimination concerns.”

Course coordinator and UniSC lecturer, Dr Toby Gifford, said one of the problems with many digital interfaces we use every day, is that they make “myriad assumptions” about the people using them, including assumptions about physical capacities.

“For example, websites often rely on visual design to communicate their message and their function, but not everyone can see... even using a mouse is difficult or impossible for many people, yet many digital interfaces require a mouse to easily navigate."

“These assumptions can also be social or cognitive," Dr Gifford said.

"For example, the language and visual designs we use in communications usually reflect our own backgrounds and cultures, so for people from different sociocultural backgrounds or with neurodiverse cognition, they can be hard to understand, and sometimes abrasive.”

Dr Gifford said companies that adopt inclusive digital practices stand to benefit from an expanded customer base, and depending on the industry, the expanded customer base can be quite significant.

Dr Toby Gifford
Dr Toby Gifford is the course coordinator for UniSC's Inclusive Digital Design for Business course
“A study commissioned by the Centre for Inclusive Design in Australia found that across the major industry sectors of education, retail and financial services, companies could experience up to a 400 percent increase in customer base by adopting inclusive digital practices."

UniSC student Bailey Weymss, who co-chairs the UniSC Disability and Inclusion Student Group, said universal design is a “crucial approach” to empowering people with disabilities.

“It's essential to recognise that 'online' doesn't inherently mean 'accessible'”.

“It's pivotal to educate businesses about the latest advancements in accessibility technology, to equip teams with the necessary tools and understanding to create digital environments that are truly accessible to everyone, dismantling the barriers often encountered in the digital world.

“Among UniSC’s Disability Inclusion Student Group, we can’t wait to see how this improves accessibility, now, and in the future.”

Bailey Weymss
UniSC student Bailey Weymss co-chairs the UniSC Disability and Inclusion Student Group

Corey Collins is a digital accessibility specialist, who consulted on the design of the Inclusive Digital Design course.

“Approximately 18 percent of Australia’s population identifies as having a disability, so it makes critical business sense to ensure almost one in five of your customers have a seamless and effortless experience when interacting with your digital presence as a business," Corey said.

“And while there are multiple financial and reputation reasons to encourage businesses to be digitally inclusive, in my experience the greatest incentive is knowing you’re equalling a digital environment for all customers.” 

“Even better, is receiving feedback from our customers acknowledging they’ve had a good experience.”

Inclusive Digital Design for Business


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This course runs over eight weeks, with six teaching weeks, and two weeks for assessment tasks. This course offers a comprehensive understanding of accessibility issues and provides the necessary skills to ensure your digital business communication complies with national and global accessibility requirements and good practice.

Media enquiries: Please contact the Media Team media@usc.edu.au