Why organisations are still failing to deliver accessibility, and what we can do to change that

Man confused sat using a laptop

Written by Jonathan Hassell, CEO & Founder, Hassell Inclusion.

Back in June I presented two sessions at Digital Leaders Virtual on how organisations can benefit from a focus on digital accessibility, and how the new ISO 30071-1 Standards can help them get those benefits in a cost-efficient, sustainable way that brings them great Return on their Investment.

In those sessions some great points were raised by delegates, reflecting on how organisations are still failing to deliver accessibility: 

  • they purchase software (and hardware) which isn’t accessible for their staff with disabilities
  • they fail to implement accessibility for their customers
  • they’re half-hearted – adopting inclusive design systems, but not including code snippets to make sure designs are implemented in an accessible way
  • they take public service accessibility requirements and respond by finding the cheapest audit they can, and use accessibility statements as a “get out” to excuse their lack of accessibility, rather than actually fixing issues found

In my session at October Digital Leaders Week I’ll return to these questions in detail. 

Here’s a preview…

The first thing I’d say is that: it’s not everyone who fails

As an organisation that believes in fixing accessibility rather than just testing accessibility, we quickly get to the values behind why organisations want an accessibility audit when they contact us (something we have a torrent of, due to public sector deadlines). 

Those who care about quality stand out – they often ask for training rather than audits, or respond immediately when we suggest doing a Live Audit which trains their team and helps them fix issues on the spot, rather than a Standard Audit that often produces a long report of issues that are too scary to do anything with other than bury in a drawer, hoping a Statement will save them.

Those who succeed, go on a journey with us to get their accessibility right, and find that doing it from the start enables them to deliver accessibility not only well, but inexpensively and sustainably. 

Secondly: change is about enabling decision-makers to know the investment is worthwhile

We have been running events for years to help organisations understand what they have to win from accessibility, demonstrating how spending money on it can help them meet their business goals, however they’re defined.

For example:

  • inclusion is a key value of most of the brightest talent pouring out of universities, so your recruitment team will thank you for enabling their fine words on Diversity & Inclusion to be something you actually deliver across your organisation
  • your line managers will thank you for helping their procurement colleagues to ensure the digital tools they procure are able to help staff who have disabilities to be productive, not frustrated in their jobs. 
  • your salespeople will thank you for pushing for embedding accessible components in your design system, when you can hand them a VPAT that allows them to meet accessibility requirements and sell your products to clients in the USA, Europe, Australia and more. 

Think from the end, not the beginning. How will accessibility help each part of your organisation to win, and how can you prove that when your colleagues have taken you at your word and invested in it? 

Thirdly: how can you measure how good you are at accessibility as an organisation, so you can prove it to your potential recruits, clients and customers?

The answer is hinted at in that procurement question above. When we work with procurement teams, the thing they ask us is: if an audit or VPAT tells us how accessible a product is right now, how do I know I can rely on a vendor to keep it accessible in the coming years?

The answer is ISO 30071-1. Get certified with that, like you may already have done with ISO 9001 or 270001, and you’ll be able to say that your organisation achieves best-practice in delivering accessibility every time, not just once in once product.

That’s the proof you need. In my talk in October I’ll let you know how you can measure your organisation’s current accessibility maturity level, and put together a costed investment plan to get you that proof, and the ROI that comes with it.

Prof. Jonathan Hassell is speaking during Digital Leaders Week about ‘How to measure your digital accessibility maturity, and what a good score can win you’. You can register to attend his talk for free here.

Find out more about Hassell Inclusion here.


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