How to Help Women with Disabilities Get into Big Data

By Sally Keys

How to Help Women with Disabilities Get into Big Data

Welcome.

One way to encourage more women into the Big Data industry is to make workplaces and online systems more accessible to those with disabilities. Web accessibility is becoming increasingly more important now that businesses of every kind are conducting more of their operations online. And given that Big Data is completely technology-oriented, accessibility should play a crucial role. Improved accessibility widens the scope for attracting more female talent into the business.

Flexibility with working hours and creating the opportunity for employees to work remotely is an important aspect of adapting to differing employee needs. This could be highly beneficial for disabled employees if some of the workweek could involve working remotely, as opposed to being required to go into an office every day.

Improving accessibility for the visually impaired 

All systems should be compatible with assistive technologies, such as screen readers that convert visual data into audio form. Alternative text coding should be available for icons and images so that it is possible to interpret pictures. Having braille signage around the office to help facilitate navigation, and making arrangements to accommodate a guide dog, and other visual aids, are also important accessibility requirements.

It is certainly possible for people with limited sight (or who are legally blind) to work in fields that are usually considered highly visible. Making accommodations for the visually impaired is important in order to allow people who develop late-onset blindness to stay working in their field of expertise. For example, researchers at the Office of Astronomy for Development have been creating new ways of summarizing and converting huge sets of astronomical data into audio form, so that they can be more easily interpreted by the visually impaired. Researchers have also developed ‘sonication’ methods that allow astronomers to “listen” to planetary activity. These technological accommodations and developments are allowing experts who have already gained visual expertise to stay in their jobs.

If the Big Data field could find new ways of parsing huge amounts of data to make it interpretable in non-visual form, this could help drastically improve accessibility for the visually impaired in the Big Data Field.

Other Important Adaptations

In order to accommodate individuals with motor skill impairments, online systems can be navigable with keyboard only, so it is not necessary to use a mouse. For the audio impaired, video content can be captioned and transcripts made available. Color should also be used wisely; certain colors and patterns can confuse things for people with learning disabilities or dementia. Caution is advised when using color to convey information, this can cause problems for people who are color blind or visually impaired.

Making Sure You Have Met Expectations

Once all the relevant adaptations in the online sphere have been made according to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, you can use the Website Accessibility Conformance Evaluation Methodology to generate a report of your site’s compliance. In the U.S., workplace-based adaptions should be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

 

Leave a Reply

d
c