First Of Its Kind Primer By Digital Inclusion Global Expert Frances West Reveals Key Gaps

United Nations Releases “Leave No One Offline”

— New Primer on Engaging Companies on Digital Accessibility —

In Advance Of Global Accessibility Awareness Day May 20

BOSTON, May 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — In advance of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) May 20th, global technology strategy advisory company FrancesWestCo highlights the United Nations’ recent release of “Leave No One Offline”, the first primer on engaging companies on digital accessibility. The primer includes interviews with several leading global organizations during the height of the pandemic and reveals key gaps in visibility for digital accessibility despite accelerated momentum to embrace inclusion during the pandemic. Its timely release just prior to GAAD shines a light on the organization’s focus on digital access and inclusion for the more than one billion people with disabilities around the world.

Initiated by the United Nations’ International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Global Business and Disability Network, “Leave No One Offline” is co-authored by both Frances West, founder of global technology strategy advisory company FrancesWestCo, and Kathleen Delgado, FWC’s strategy director. Frances West is the former Chief Accessibility Officer for IBM, and author of “Authentic Inclusion™ Drives Disruptive Innovation,” her timely, actionable book on digital inclusion.

Most of the organizations interviewed reported that while there is strong momentum to embrace diversity and inclusion among senior leadership, digital accessibility has not gained similar exposure, and is viewed often times as a compliance initiative. More importantly, despite the rising tide of global disability awareness and the convergence of the social justice movement and pandemic disruption, accessibility is still not proactively considered part of most company’s overall digital transformation strategy.

“‘Leave No One Offline’ is not only a business-critical primer on the attitudes and status of corporate digital accessibility awareness, it is most definitely a call to action here in the US and around the world to eliminate barriers in technology,” said Frances West, a pioneer in creating transformational initiatives for the next normal. She added, “It is imperative that our leaders recognize that authentic inclusion must encompass all people. Only when decision making is top-down can companies truly implement digital inclusion, which enriches both employee and customer experiences, and also creates genuine disruptive innovation because of diversity.”

Stefan Tromel, Senior Disability Specialist at the United Nations’ International Labour Organization in Geneva, added, “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalization, one of the megatrends of the Future of Work, highlighting digital accessibility as a key prerequisite for inclusion of persons with disabilities in the modern workplace. With this impactful guide, the ILO Global Business and Disability Network aims to support enterprises in benefitting from digitally accessible work environments.”

This primer leveraged the Authentic Inclusion™ in Action Framework developed by FrancesWestCo which aims to help leaders view digital inclusion from a transformation perspective and to help line management operationalize digital inclusion in measurable, sustainable and scalable ways. “Leave No One Offline” was made possible by participation from the global organizations including Accenture, Merck, Repsol, Standard Chartered Bank and Zain.

On May 19th, in observance of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, ILO will host an international webinar with Frances West presenting key insights and recommendations covered in the primer, along with Stephen Framil, Merck, and Yves Veulliet, IBM. Live captioning and International Sign interpretation will be provided. Register for webinar.

Frances West is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, advisor, and technology executive known globally for her work in digital inclusion, emerging markets and organizational transformation. An innovator for inclusion on a global scale, she works with industry, government, startups and nonprofits to ensure that human diversity is at the core of disruptive innovation. She has recently joined the board of directors at 3PlayMedia, the country’s leading video services captioning company.

If interested in additional information about “Leave No One Offline” or to interview Frances West, please contact Robin Reibel. [email protected]

United Nation International Labour Organization’s
Leave No One Offline primer

What is the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Leave No One Offline Primer?
The primer reveals the insights of interviews conducted with global organizations during the pandemic on their journey, readiness, obstacles and best practices of implementing accessibility. Organizations included Merck, Standard Charter Bank, Repsol and Zain.

What is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GADD)
Global Accessibility Awareness Day is an awareness day focusing on digital access and inclusion for the more than one billion people with disabilities and impairments. It is marked annually on the third Thursday of May. This year is May 20th, 2021 and has a series of events and activities.

What is the primer’s purpose?
The primer provides strategic recommendations and a roadmap on how to begin, scale and sustain accessibility for businesses and organizations.

Who should read this primer?
C-suite and senior executive leaders in various business functions such as Marketing, Sales, Technology, Product Development, Procurement, Legal and HR.

Why is this relevant?
Beyond providing access to people with disabilities or excluding 25% of customers or employees, the primer and topic of digital accessibility are also about a profitable path forward to a more diverse and inclusive workplace and marketplace.

What is digital accessibility?
Digital accessibility is about making websites, mobile apps, and marketing content available to all people (whether they have a disability or not). Without a design for accessibility, a large segment of the global population, who could be customers and employees, will be excluded.

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, paving the way for accessible public spaces. A similar set of guidelines regulates the accessibility of websites and online documents. Accessibility benefits everyone as is serves more than just those who require assistive technologies to browse the web, it makes everyone’s experience clearer, easier, and much richer.

Who is the ILO The Global Business Disability Network?
The Global Business Disability Network is the world’s leading multinational companies working with the ILO – the United Nations agency for the world of work – to the benefit of business, persons with disabilities and economies and communities worldwide.

What is FrancesWestCo?
A global advisory company working with public, private and non-profit organizations including start-ups to operationalize inclusion as a core business imperative to drive disruptive innovation. Founded by Frances West, who was commissioned by ILO ad co-authored the primer along with Kathleen Delgado, FWC’s Director of Strategic Initiatives.

Who Is Frances West?
Frances West is an internationally recognized thought leader, speaker, advisor, and technology executive known globally for her work in digital inclusion, emerging markets, and organizational transformation.

An innovator for inclusion on a global scale, she works with industry, government, startups, and nonprofits to operationalize digital inclusion as a business and technology imperative and ensure that diversity is at the core of disruptive innovation. A trail-blazing Asian American woman in tech pioneer, Frances’ human-first thinking is rooted in her experience as a first-generation immigrant from Asia who rose to the C-suite at IBM. She is the author of “Authentic Inclusion Drives Disruptive innovation” and founder of FrancesWestCo, a global technology strategy advisory company.



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