What you may find in your organization
The key implementation tasks for accessibility compliance can be split among several teams or assigned to the control of a single person for specific business areas.
Design aspects including presentation (color contrast, images, content phrasing and organization) can be handled by a business client group (content specialists, marketing, legal, sales, and clerical) with or without input from accessibility specialists experienced with current standards.
Care must be taken to plan for adverse decision-making caused by deadlines and bonus structure.
Deadlines may be unrealistic given the number of files involved in a particular project. Important steps to take with the business content owners and administration include defining file and web page usage. Any files or pages not used within a year need further investigation to determine the business-case need – is use triggered by a unique circumstance which occurs infrequently? Many files and pages can be obsoleted. Other files and pages may be duplicates and can be obsoleted as well.
Bonuses may be tied to the number of files or pages marked as “accessible”. You may find files or web pages get published as accessible when no accessibility audits or remediation was performed. I have witnessed occurrences where the content owners will indicate they had to meet the deadline and just published it anyway without even consulting the accessibility team. Also, they may consult the Accessibility team only after making a decision which involves considerable maintenance risk. One way this occurs is not knowing the details of what accessibility remediation requires. The phrase often used is, “… well this should work, right...” The only answer is, “Did you test it?”
Accessibility Specialists Provide Education and Options
Your company and your customers are best served when accessibility specialists are included in all aspects of design. The accessibility specialists can demonstrate the costs of proposed design elements in terms of time-to-completion and risks in terms of usability and failure to meet standards.
I have witnessed business content owners not including accessibility until after a design has been approved by legal. Accessibility must be considered from the first design to have effective implementation.
Education is the key insight the accessibility specialist can provide in terms of the PDF/UA standard, WCAG web guidelines, usability of designs for all, the value of Plain Language, and time-to-completion obstacles.
Implementation options would be another key insight the accessibility specialist can provide. There is always a simple implementation to achieve the desired result. The key consideration is to review the document from the user’s perspective.
The key questions include, what is important to the user and what is the action step for the user. The answers to these questions will help you select an effective implementation.
Provide content that helps users easily understand the purpose of the document and what actions steps they need to take:
“…write clearly, so your users can:
Find what they need,
Understand what they find,
Use what they find to meet their needs…”
Developing an Accessibility Procurement Process by Kara Zirkle, Miami University
Example of Web Accessibility Implementation Policy at The Ohio State University
Model of a working Accessibility Policy and Process at California State University
The Digital Accessibility Maturity Model at Level Access
TechCheck at Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT)
GOALS Web Accessibility Benchmarking & Planning Tool at National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE)
Example of Procuring Accessible IT at the University of Washington
Model of working Guide to Accessible Purchasing at Temple University
Design and Development Cycle
Best practices include:
Collaborating with UX researchers and designers to create concepts and prototype testing to implement digital accessibility.
Consulting with analysts and developers as they design artifacts or create code to ensure best practices are followed for accessibility. The staff performing the remediation and screen reader testing are the ones who can provide the clear answers.
Working with QA analysts to properly discover, assign severity level and priority, report, and remediate accessibility defects; Identification of what is a design issue versus an accessibility remediation issue.