Accessibility culture requires commitment
Organizations that take digital accessibility seriously are eventually going to need an accessibility coordinator. Digital accessibility is the law. It provides benefits such as expanding your audience and improving your SEO scores. It is also the right thing to do. Accessibility culture, where accessibility is considered for every aspect of what your organization does, is part of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It requires commitment from the whole organization, starting at the top.
What is an Accessibility Coordinator?
An accessibility coordinator helps educate, coordinate, motivate, and lead employees in accessibility practices. This person helps employees better understand how accessibility affects the organization and those who consume its digital content.
What does an Accessibility Coordinator do?
1. Accessibility Policies and Statements
The accessibility coordinator creates an internal accessibility policy and a public accessibility statement. Usually, these are produced in cooperation with management and organization stakeholders (such as HR, customer support, or others). They clearly state the organization’s accessibility goals. These also outline expectations for employees. Additionally, they provide an avenue for resolving any issues that arise both inside and outside the organization.
An accessibility coordinator oversees and schedules training for all employees. This includes new employees being onboarded as well as existing employees. They schedule refresher courses in creating and remediating accessible content. The coordinator ensures employees are effectively trained on any new accessibility technology the organization is using. They also track employee skills and ensure each person receives the training they need to contribute to accessibility culture.
Accessibility coordinators conduct and/or oversee regularly scheduled accessibility testing on websites and digital documents. They perform spot checks on social media, email, and other digital content. Additionally, they ensure that employees are staying on track with the organization’s accessibility culture.
4. Technology evaluation
They both choose and use testing tools to ensure all content produced is accessible and usable. Accessibility coordinators evaluate VPATs and the usability of new technology employed by the organization. They make recommendations for the most accessible tools. It is important that tools used by organizations are as accessible for employees as the content produced is for the target audience.
Accessibility coordinators hold employees accountable for the accessibility of the content they produce. They follow up after finding accessibility shortcomings and ensure they are not repeated. This may involve training, assistance, and in some cases, disciplinary action.
In some cases, the accessibility coordinator is responsible for fixing certain inaccessible web pages and documents. These may be legacy content or simply require skills beyond the capabilities of other employees. To that end, depending on volume, they may have a staff or they may employ outside vendors to help complete these projects.
When it’s time for a coordinator
Provided management holds them accountable, smaller organizations can stay on track with accessibility without a coordinator. However, as an organization grows, it becomes more difficult to ensure accessibility culture when management is pulled in many different directions. At some point, it is necessary to choose someone to oversee and enforce accessibility culture. An accessibility director or coordinator is required.
Signs that it’s time for an accessibility coordinator include receiving complaints from people with disabilities about the accessibility of your content, employees being unable to make their content accessible, and sometimes being the target of a lawsuit.
If your organization isn’t quite ready for a full-time coordinator but needs help keeping up with accessibility beyond individuals there are a few options. Consider assigning someone to oversee your accessibility culture in addition to their other duties. You can also create an accessibility committee made up of representatives from multiple departments, or appoint a person from each department to assume these responsibilities.
Buy-in from the top
Without upper management support, accessibility will never be a priority. Management must enforce and require accountability from the top down in order to ensure that everyone keeps accessibility top of mind while doing their job. Just as diversity and inclusion language and mentality are now part of most corporate culture, disability inclusion should be as well.
Accessibility is everyone’s job
Successful accessibility culture within an organization relies on everyone to contribute. Make everyone responsible for the accessibility of their content, materials, emails, and social media. Ensure any digital communication is either created accessibly or remediated so that it is usable for everyone. An accessibility coordinator can facilitate and oversee this to both protect your organization and ensure no one is excluded.
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Tammy Albee | Director of Marketing | Equidox Tammy joined Equidox after four years of experience working at the National Federation of the Blind. She firmly maintains that accessibility is about reaching everyone, regardless of ability, and boosting your market share in the process. "Nobody should be barred from accessing information. It's what drives our modern society."