Organizations should develop a way to manage, govern, and enforce accessibility standards, best practices, and law. Remediation and retrofitting is not the answer. Processes organizations should establish and manage:
Accessibility is more than a technical challenge; it’s a process management challenge. Change starts with the establishment of a team of people, who express interest in accessibility, and represent several departments within the organization. Tasks include:
- identifying the goals and objectives of implementing accessibility;
- selecting internal standards, best practices, resources and tools needed to incorporate accessibility; and
- specifying accessibility guidelines and policies for the entire organization.
Web Development Process
Plan. Create. Test. These are the 3 tasks to cycle through during the process of developing a new site/design, new feature, or remediation of a site. Accessibility experts and people with disabilities need to be part of these various stages to ensure quality and usability of the end product.
Plan and design phase includes:
- requirements, and
- design of information architecture (IA) and user experience (UX).
Create content & components phase includes:
- creating front-end markup & programming
- creating text content
- testing multimedia
Test content and components phase includes:
- testing markup & programming
- testing text content
- testing multimedia
Set clear expectations and milestones for when your project is “done.” Accessibility review is always on-going, but there should be definitive policies about what is acceptable to be pushed to production and what is not. The general categories of accessibility scope are:
- innovation (new technologies or techniques)
- new design (new project)
- retrofitting (fixing existing project by inventory, assess, and prioritize)
- maintenance (testing updates of project with automation)
Best-case scenario says that only 1-5% of development time will be for accessibility efforts. Worst-case scenario paints a more grim picture that accessibility efforts may cost a team 2-3x the usual development time. Sadly, the last scenario happens all-too-often because teams don’t know much about web accessibility, don’t have a process in place, and resort to trial-and-error along the way. Accessibility can cost the team even more time if there are no experts on any level of the organization. To ensure that time is reduced on the accessibility of a project, the following are a must:
- accessibility expert on staff
- all team members are educated about accessibility
- accessibility is embedded in the process
- accessible patterns and methods are available
- a flexible development environment
- automated testing tools
Most of the cost of accessibility will be due to time management decisions. However, there are a few additional items to keep in mind:
- third-party consultation
- enterprise-level accessibility software for testing (audits, AT)
During the planning phase, there should be:
- tests written for accessibility requirements,
- user stories generated,
- acceptance criteria to determine achievement of design requirements,
- bug reporting, and
- manual testing performed by actual people with disabilities.
Human Resource Management
Not only should teams recruit people with disabilities for testing, but the organization should take it a step further and hire people with disabilities to be on the team. In addition to hiring people with disabilities, organizations should hire accessibility experts that have been trained and certified to evaluate with accessibility in mind. And, to make an even stronger accessibility-minded organization, it’s pivotal to train all team members about accessibility.
Speaking of training all team members, from product manager, to designer, to developer, HR management segues into communication management. Informing the entire team that accessibility is business as usual, and all members are required to have a degree of accessibility knowledge can increase the strength and maturity of the organization’s accessibility policies. Having an accessibility lead on staff, who has power to support continuing education for all staff, adds to that strength.
Risk management is the examination of the organization’s:
- legal liability,
- public relations (PR) status, and
Legal liability is based off of how bad the accessibility issues (barriers and blocks) are for people with disabilities (see Day 84: Strategies and Techniques for Fixing A11y Issues). Each organization may have a higher risk of lawsuit if key actions for their site are not achievable.
Negative PR is worse than no PR. No organization one’s to be cast as a discriminating (implicit or explicit) business.
As for accountability, this is an internal process. Managers and supervisors need to hold staff accountable to accessibility efforts throughout each process.
As I mentioned in The Many Laws of Accessibility, Part 2: Laws & Regulations, procurement is the process of purchasing goods and services from external sources. Each organization should “try before they buy”. In other words, when outsourcing for services and products, organizations should:
- only buy accessible products, whether for internal or public use,
- verify the accessibility claims from the vendor, including asking for and reviewing their VPAT (voluntary product accessibility templates),
- write accessible outcomes into the contract,
- verify contractor’s accessibility expertise, and
- leverage procurement policies to motivate vendors to do better.
Stakeholder management is as simple as considering all the people involved to make an accessible product happen. In best of times, stakeholders may be, but are not be limited to:
- clients or users, including people with disabilities.
If your organization didn’t follow through with other management items mentioned earlier, then you may be adding lawyers, a person(s) who filed a complaint, and a judge. So, make a list, check it twice, and keep all these people involved throughout the plan, create, and test process.
That’s all, folks! This is the end of my CPACC studying. By the time this has published, I’ll have completed the exam, for better or worse. Follow-up reflections soon to come.
Now it’s time for your journey. Get learning and start today with making the web more accessible!