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Debra Ruh

  Employability & Technology


How Does an Organization Blend Accessibility into its Culture?

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Debra Ruh explains why organizations need to take a strategic and process driven approach to accessibility in order to incorporate a culture of inclusion at work.

Many areas of an organization are impacted by accessibility and each area has processes that impact other parts of the organization. In the past, we have worked with clients that asked for a web site audit. We would test their website and give them technical guidance to get their website into compliance. However, some of those organizations did not add accessibility into their processes, and within a short amount of time the website was out of compliance again. It’s sad to see an organization spend time, resources and money to get their website accessible and then lose everything they had gained because they did not make accessibility part of their standard policies and procedures (P&P), blending it into their culture and processes.

So what do I mean by blending accessibility into your culture and processes? There are many approaches but one idea is to update your P&P to include accessibility. For example, update your web style guide, content guides and templates to include accessibility. I remember giving our findings to one large client and they were not pleased that we found many of their graphics needed tagging. The reason they were not pleased was because this was part of their internal web standards. So this was a management issue of developers not following company policy.

Ensuring your organization is accessible requires a road map and plan. Some of the items that should be included:

  • Initial Audits
  • Training (Executive, Manager, Testers, Quality Control, Quality Assurance, IT, Marketing or anyone adding content to the site)
  • Updated P&P
  • Updated Style and Content Guides
  • Updated Templates
  • Maintenance Plans that should include additional training, testing and auditing

Think of the many steps that are required with IT Privacy and Security. It’s a step by step process to include them into an organization’s culture. So to make accessibility part of the culture you have to follow the same steps as any other IT process. To make anything part of the culture it has to be part of the process and organizations have to enable the processes at the coding and content level.