Introducing Accessibility to your leadership team
When it comes to introducing accessibility (a11y) to your leadership team, there are a few things I suggest you consider. These are lessons I learned from my own experience leading an a11y initiative for a large org.
1. Leading with disability stats:
it creates the wrong impression that a11y matters to ONLY a small % of the population. Disability stats do not accurately represent the state of disability in our world. 70% of disabilities are invisible and most often undisclosed or undiagnosed. Another stat you should ditch is the one on a11y lawsuits.
2. Pitching the a11y business case:
I often see decks with a “big number” both for a11y rev opportunity and investment. While I don’t disagree that in business everything we do is tied to revenue goals, I think this approach can derail the conversation and delay your ability to make progress.
3. The a11y status update and roadmap:
Have you seen the updates with the charts showing the # of a11y “bugs” with a roadmap to compliance? Yep, we have all done this. Please stop.
Instead, I suggest the following 3 alternatives:
1. Leading with the customer experience:
Identify the customer journeys in your product that are tied directly to your revenue goals. What do your customers need to do to derive value from your product? Then identify the biggest a11y barriers that exist for your customers with disabilities. Prioritize these issues, lay out a roadmap on how you plan to address them and what it would take to do so. But focus on the customer experience versus on the specific a11y issue. The goal is to remove barriers in your customer experience,removing these barriers will result in achieving your rev goals.
2. Lead with demos, invite your customers/ employees with a disability to do them:
Do not assume that your leaders know what a11y means and what the experience is like for disabled people. So, show them. I do not recommend you do this but I once did a demo for an exec team by blindfolding myself & stumbling through the entire customer journey using a screenreader. Ideally, you should invite customers / employees with a disability to do a demo on the barriers they face while using your product. This can be an eye opening & humbling experience for the audience, many of whom have never seen assistive tech in action.
3. Do a11y walk throughs/get creative:
I was given 5 min for an a11y update to the CEO & his staff. He was in all day mtgs with little to no time for this topic. I suggested we use one of their breaks to do a walkthrough. We set up outside the conference room,with posters, personas, demo stations and hands on experiences. The CEO & his staff ended up spending >30 mins with us. It was a very rich and uplifting experience for everyone especially the team working on a11y. We got great feedback and kudos for our work!
There is no silver bullet when it comes to this stuff. But I hope you will take these ideas for a spin.
There is only one way to find out what works, try it!