3 Ways to Ramp Up Your Company’s Accessibility Strategy
Updated: October 8, 2020
Implementing a successful accessibility strategy at your organization is not a sprint–it’s a marathon–and this article will help carry you to the finish line.
Without an effective accessibility strategy, your organization will be missing out on many benefits, such as improved user experience for a much broader audience.
Crafting an accessibility strategy doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re at a standstill and aren’t sure what your next move should be, don’t worry. There are actionable steps you can take to bring accessibility at your organization to the next level.
This post is for you if:
- You’ve already taken steps to initiate accessibility at your organization.
- You still need to gain support from higher-ups and fully implement a sustainable accessibility strategy.
Where Do You Stand?
🛑 Before continuing with the following steps, wait a moment and take inventory.
Be sure that you’ve taken the necessary first steps towards accessibility. Have you conducted research to determine accessibility’s role are your organization? Have you formed a team or task force to take on accessibility initiatives? Have you written a comprehensive accessibility policy?
Once these action items are in the rearview, you’ll be set up for success moving forward.
Step One: Develop Research-Backed Solutions
By now, you have a decent understanding of how accessibility fits into your organization’s current processes. You’ve researched various processes across different departments such as design, product, and procurement and determined accessibility needs for each.
Now it’s time to put your research to good use and create suitable solutions for current processes. These solutions will be unique to your company, but here are some examples to go by:
- Build purchasing criteria to ensure any vendors your organization partners with are accessible vendors.
- Update authoring systems to ensure all future content is accessible.
- Create a strategy to tackle the accessibility of existing products.
Step Two: Get Higher-Up Support
Obtaining senior-level support will help get accessibility initiatives into motion. There’s no beating around the bush here–this can be challenging to accomplish. The best way to start on this path is to have thoughtful and open conversations with decision-makers.
Understand the implications of accessibility before speaking with decision-makers.
Once you find time to hold discussion with higher-ups, take a moment to anticipate what questions and concerns they may have. Write down how you would answer them. This will prepare you for a successful meeting that will accurately communicate the value of accessibility.
Try to answer the following questions as a starting point. Be specific to your organization:
- Why is accessibility important?
- Where is accessibility lacking?
- What actions will you need to take?
- What will the time commitment and cost of accessibility be?
If you’re unsure how to answer these questions, it’s okay to take a step back. It’s better to ensure that you have a complete understanding of the implications before speaking with any decision-makers. After all, confidence is key when it comes to being persuasive.
Step Three: Centralize Your Accessibility Solution
You have built a solid foundation for accessibility at your organization and have come to the final step. It’s time to centralize accessibility across the board, but how do you do that?
Determine the key players
Which departments and divisions within your organization will be affected most by new accessibility initiatives? Determine these key players and open a line of communication with them. Provide them with access to contacts and resources that will address their questions and concerns.
Gaining buy-in from your organization centers around open communication and thoughtful conversation.
Hold instructional meetings that equip department members with the tools for accessibility success. Offer materials that detail how accessibility will affect their day-to-day processes.
Much like talking to higher-ups, gaining buy-in from your entire organization centers around open communication and thoughtful conversation. Accessibility is a collaborative effort, and earning support from all members of your organization is critical for success.
Create Centralized Workflows
The last thing people want is new processes that disrupt how they currently get things done. Your goal is to ease their mind and reassure them that with centralized workflows, it will be a smooth transition.
The most effective workflows are optimized to fit in with how your company already functions. When possible, create processes that everyone can easily follow and ensure that they are clear and concise. This way, it will be much easier to convince others that accessibility can and will work within your organization.
Audit Accessibility Across Departments
Auditing is a way to monitor progress, determine pain points, and get feedback, all of which contribute to the success of accessibility at your organization. The overseeing of processes allows you to address questions and concerns and to offer help to departments who are struggling to adapt.
It will take time for people to get the hang of things–have patience and provide support when needed. With hard work and a team effort, your organization will pave its way towards more accessible practices in time. After all is said and done, you’ll have a solid accessibility strategy that’s built to last and provide value to your company.
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