2.4: Who needs to be part of the accessibility strategy in our business?
David: So Sandi, who needs to be part of the accessibility strategy in our business?
Sandi: Absolutely everyone, and even our customers, ideally can be part of our accessibility strategy.
When you think about all the roles that employees have in a business, not everybody has a direct connection with the end customer, but they certainly have a direct connection with their peers, their coworkers. And if they want to get their job done, they need to be able to do it without running into roadblocks every single day.
Everybody plays a role in the accessibility strategy. Whether it’s making senior management aware that the software that we’re using to provide customer service is it fully accessible, or the marketing department who’s responsible for social media needs to make sure that their social media posts are accessible and certainly top management needs to be the leader in the role model in all of this.
If senior management doesn’t buy into an accessibility strategy, it’s very difficult to have that filter down throughout the culture. Ideally, you have somebody who’s a champion, maybe a few people who can champion the strategy, especially when it’s new to your organization. But in an ideal world, once you’ve implemented this strategy and it’s pervasive throughout your organization, it’s almost something that you don’t have to think about anymore. It’s just the way you do things. Accessibility is just a part of your overall business in the same way as your customer service strategy is, or your marketing strategy.
And if you include your customers in that strategy, it’s even better, because really every business exists to provide a service to a customer. And if we can’t do that in an accessible way, in a way that engages our customers, then we need to fix that problem. We’re not going to be in business if you don’t have customers, so when we bring customers in to talk about an accessibility strategy or talk about what barriers they may be experiencing with the products that we offer, then we’re going to produce a better product because we’re solving problems for them.
David: So, the accessibility strategy is really all about a culture shift. It’s all about the business understanding and working together on what accessibility means, which is really about closing the workplace gaps. So, leaders need to understand accessibility. They need to set policies, they need to set the attitude of the company.
Accessibility is something that we quite often talk about, but the second part is management need to how to implement accessibility. So, although leaders talk about accessibility and they set policies, quite often management do not have the resources, the skills or the knowledge to actually implement those policies, and that’s the gap we need to close. And I guess the third part is the employees need to understand the accessibility strategy of the company to fulfill the cultural desire of the company, and in other words, to fulfill the branding of the company.
We, you know, employees working together. We need to be able to collaborate together and understand what needs to be done so that the face of the business to the community is unified.
Sandi: And I find that organizations of, you know, not a small small organization, but once you get to maybe 100 employees, maybe even smaller than that, organizations start to think about hiring accessibility specialists. So, someone who has a dedicated responsibility to making sure that a company implements accessibility in all parts of the organization. So, they may be responsible for helping employees create accessible documents, or they may be responsible for monitoring social media posts, or they may be responsible for providing training on a regular basis just to remind everyone what accessibility is about and how to achieve it.
It’s, and when you get to that point where you’ve got someone who’s fully responsible for it, you can then, as a company I think, make sure that accessibility is a consideration with everything you do. It’s not an afterthought. It’s not, oh we’re ready to launch the site, is it accessible? No, you think about it right from the beginning when you’re creating documents or training manuals, even for employees. You don’t think about making it accessible right before you publish it. You think about it at the very beginning when you’re starting to draft the document, and I think that that is almost the ultimate goal of an accessibility strategy. Is get to the point where you’re thinking about accessibility every step of the way, not at the very end before you press the publish button.