Accessibility is to become a key priority for the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA –
the body representing the interactive and digital content sector, incoming chair Justin Cooke has told E-Access Bulletin.
Cooke is managing director of web design agency Fortune Cookie, which has a track record of creating accessible websites for clients such as Legal and General. He has been elected chair of BIMA for three years, heading an executive board that also includes senior representatives of leading ad agencies, national newspaper websites, digital agencies and recruitment and skills firms.
“In order for something to be interactive – to allow people to engage, interact and transact – it has to be accessible,” Cooke told the bulletin in an exclusive interview the week after his appointment. “Accessibility needs to be a key principle in developing interactive work. It is about removing barriers – by removing barriers for everybody, accessibility in a purer sense can be taken care of.”
Cooke said he will recommend that BIMA create a set of simple, clear guidelines on accessibility for its members as part of a 100-day plan to create measurable proposals for improvement. “We will not create our own standards, but I want to showcase how you create accessible experiences and promote best practice.”
He said he will also look at introducing accessibility as a key part of the education work BiMA carries out with schools, colleges and universities, aimed at boosting skills and bringing talented recruits into the industry.
Ultimately, the key point for the interactive media industry is that accessible products will be a bigger commercial success, Cooke said. “Accessibility isn’t just about compliance, it’s about return on investment,” he said. “If a product is more accessible, you are going to make more money. But there is still some education to be done in this area.”