Inclusion and Accessibility Labs on KFM – Employment Audit

Interview with Ciara Noble

Ciara Noble: You’re very welcome Kyran, and we are telling Kildare businesses to pay attention at the moment because this will really help them. The inaccessible websites mean up to 200,000 people across this country and, of course, in this county, could be missing out on employment opportunities. Why are they so inaccessible, Kyran?

Kyran O’Mahoney: Thanks for having me. So digital equality or in this report, we focused on employment websites, is a huge part of a journey that Ireland is starting on like most of Europe, and what we do in IA Labs is make sure that people have an accessible website to everyone with a disability. So, if I can give an example, if you try to apply for a job at the moment and let’s say maybe you’re blind and you have a screen reader, on 8 out of the 9 websites that we reviewed, someone who uses a screen reader wasn’t actually able to apply for a job. And then we expanded it broader across all types of disabilities and when you look at the websites, particularly around employment, people with disabilities cannot actually apply for roles. Now in this report we focused on the biggest recruitment sites, but as you might have seen in a lot of agendas for most corporate companies at the moment, having a diversity and inclusion agenda is very very important, but if you are excluded from actually applying for a job in that company, effectively you are creating an exclusive environment via your website.

CN: Now, it is noted here by the findings from your research, public sector websites are required to be specific digital accessibility standards under the Web Accessibility Directive, that has been laid down by the European Commission and it was transposed into Irish law in 2020. There is currently no such mandate you note posed on non-public sector websites, but the adoption of the European Accessibility Act will require private sector service providers to make their websites and mobile devices easily accessible. If we look at the public sector websites here in the country, is Ireland up to scratch compared to our European counterparts?

KOM: Well, no is the simplest answer! But I would say that all of the EU member states are in a phase where they are trying to catch up. So, what we have seen across Irish public sector websites from employment and broader is you would usually see about 30% compliance and that wouldn’t be great to be honest, you know, when you say 70% of government department websites are not accessible. Even if you look then at the corporate world, if we look at the top 100 websites in Ireland, only 28% of them could be considered accessible, so while there is legislation in place says all publicly funded or government departments must meet a level of accessibility since 2020, our expectation is, as we note in this report, that all websites and mobile applications, which is really important as well because most people use their mobile phone for everything now, by 2025 will need to have a fully accessible website so now is the time to do it. And I think one of the things I would like to emphasise in this report is that we really are on a journey in Ireland and across the EU on making Europe digitally inclusive to everyone. Legislation is a great first step, you know you see many of the employment websites are currently not accessible, but we really are on a journey to do that and that’s why we formed Inclusion and Accessibility Labs is to really… support companies, both public and private by the way, in their journey towards digital inclusion.

CN: Okay, well thank you so much for joining me this afternoon, and just to let people know that the survey commissioned by the National Council for the Blind of Ireland was prepared by IA Labs which Kyran O’Mahoney is the Co-Founder and Director of. The Irish Digital Employment Audit did assess Ireland’s leading job recruitment websites and 200,000 people across the country could be missing out on employment opportunities because of the inaccessibility of these websites. That is Kyran O’Mahoney, if you want more information you can head on over to the National Council for the Blind of Ireland website to find out more stats.