Accessibility within organisations - why and how do you align your workforce?
Why is it important to align your organisation?
As with any sort of alignment, aligning your organisation means that everyone is aiming at the same goal - a collective effort to achieve results. Making sure that everyone is conscious of accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought. It should be ingrained from the beginning. People need to know:
What accessibility is
Why accessibility matters
The role each person/department has in accessibility
Accessibility should be treated in the same way, and with the same attitude, that you would apply to other areas in your business. Having an accessible product or service is a requirement, not an additional ‘feature’.
How do you spread the message?
Accessibility is usually unaccounted for due to misunderstanding or unawareness.
The main misunderstanding of accessibility is that it benefits only a minority of users, in reality, accessibility is essential for some but useful for everyone. In order to break out of this mindset, compare features and tools seemingly purely for users with disabilities and expand that to show that it is useful for everyone.
Sometimes it can be hard to find a time that everyone is available. At Invotra, we run ‘lunch and learn’ sessions. This means that people stay in the office during their lunch breaks, but the company buys everyone pizza to sweeten the deal. It’s a great way of incentivising learning and everyone finds the sessions incredibly useful.
If this isn’t suitable for your organisation, you could instead teach and guide your employees department by department, or one to one, it’s important that each team (and each person) understands their role within accessibility.
Understanding the goal - plan of action
Looking at accessibility can seem like a huge task, especially if you have a product that’s already well-developed. There may be short, medium or long term goals you could work towards such as:
- Short: interim fixes like adding 'skip to' links, adding labels to all form fields and adding alt text to all images.
- Medium: fix the major pain points, such as navigation. Carry out user testing to identify pain points.
- Long: achieve AA standard within 12 months.
It’s all well and good for people to be aware of accessibility, but if they don’t fully understand how to implement it, there will be flaws. Setting targets and including accessibility within project plans and specifications can help people stay on track and really understand what they need to do.
You can make things easier for your staff by setting a company standard stating which level of conformance you will meet. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) lays out the guidelines that must be met. There are three levels of conformance:
Each level adds further requirements, where level A is the most basic and level AAA is the most advanced. However, most businesses choose level AA as the most realistic option.
How do you create something sustainable and retain the culture?
Having the right attitude is the first step. Then, it is making sure that all employees are aligned. Things that can help you to achieve something sustainable are:
Regular audits (yearly if possible)
Ensure that accessibility is a part of your brand guidelines
Make sure that new employees are taught about accessibility from the beginning. Teach, provide resources and do quizzes.
Offer training to anyone that asks for it