This week marks two significant events. Firstly, Thursday 20 May sees the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). In its own words, the purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion and the more than one billion people around the world with disabilities/impairments. Secondly, the global disability network, “The Valuable 500”, of which Springer Nature is part, has announced that it has reached its milestone of securing commitments from 500 CEOs and their companies worldwide.
Since The Valuable 500 was launched at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at Davos in 2019, some of the most recognisable businesses from across the world have joined the campaign for disability inclusion, including Allianz, BBC, The Coca-Cola Company, Deloitte, EY, Google, Microsoft, Nestle, P&G, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., Prada, Sky, Sony, Twitter, Unilever, Virgin Media, Verizon and Vodafone. The membership includes 37 of the FTSE 100 companies, 44 of the Fortune 500 and 28 of the Nikkei.
In addition to the moral, ethical and — in many instances — legal cases for being inclusive, companies are recognising the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and of ensuring that their products are better designed to serve disabled communities - it just makes good business sense.
We’ve already made significant progress on web accessibility issues for a number of years as part of our broader diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy (more on this below) and earlier this year, Springer Nature signed up to the Valuable 500, publicly committing to do even more. Our CEO, Frank Vrancken Peeters announced the following priorities:
One of the projects we initiated that is genuinely contributing to improving accessibility for people across the world is “Pa11y”. Back in 2013, we were struggling to ensure that all of the accessibility improvements we were making to our websites did not get lost as sites were upgraded. As such, we produced some software to perform automated checks.
Feeling passionate advocates for accessibility, we made this software Open Source, so others could use it free of charge as a contribution to improving digital platforms for the benefit of all.
Now several years later, Pa11y is an independent, community-run project and part of over 1,600 companies’ software repositories across the globe, including Microsoft, the BBC, The Financial Times, Greenpeace, The Natural History Museum, the NHS, The City of Amsterdam, The United Nations, Johnson & Johnson, Princeton University and The U.S. Department of State.
DEI is one of our highest strategic priorities at Springer Nature. It is reflected in the public commitments we’ve made and the company values that guide our actions. Working to improve DEI is essential to achieving our mission of opening doors to discovery, to enable researchers, educators, clinicians and other professionals to access, trust and make sense of the latest insights so together we can improve and enrich lives and help to protect our planet for future generations. High standards of accessibility are paramount, in ensuring that the life experiences of all people, including those with a disability, are maximised where possible. You can find out more about our DEI commitments on our website.