Rebecca Askew on plain language, 508 compliance and fairness for all.
What does the modern, well-adjusted workplace look like to you? To Rebecca Askew, CEO of Circuit Media, it looks like an even playing field where everyone feels welcome and included. We sit just outside of the main office in an area she calls the garden. It is a large but private space, filled with plants and shaded with a pergola draped in vines.
1 out of every 5 people in the United States have a disability. One of Rebecca’s passion areas is 508 compliance and plain language. “In our field, there are few experts in this area to guide everyone forward. But we are currently establishing ourselves to fill this void of sorts.” She leans forward and speaks animatedly, “The plain language movement is what really got us going. Plain language came from law — as a social justice movement for those who couldn’t understand all the heavy legal jargon — those who felt excluded.”
WHAT IS 508 COMPLIANCE?
508 compliance ensures that the federal government’s electronic and information technology (EIT) is accessible to all individuals with disabilities. EIT includes but is not limited to PDF documents, online training, software and operating systems, copiers, printers, etc.
“Outside of government and this company — it’s not widely discussed, but this is such a great opportunity to help create a fair playing field for all.”
In Rebecca’s opinion, accessibility, particularly for those with disabilities, should be a standard in every workplace regardless of size or underlying structure. The United States government requires 508 compliance on all digital materials including documents, video and audio. However, many modern workplaces discount such practices either because of logistical conflicts or because they do not see the value in providing 508 compliance for the public and employees.
Rebecca goes on to say that Circuit Media further committed itself in this area when it began working closely with the Center for Plain Language, a non-profit organization of people in government, education and business who work to promote the use of plain language in the public and private sectors.
WHAT IS PLAIN LANGUAGE?
Plain language is the practice of removing slang and complex wording from language. Speaking or writing plainly is a way to ensure that all parties understand as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Rebecca, who started Circuit Media in 2002 from her basement, currently employs nearly 50 professionals located in multiple states. Her management philosophy is simple: care about what you do, who you employ and how they feel every day.