Changing your organization’s principles isn’t easy. However, when you’re starting a web accessibility initiative, that’s exactly what you’re doing — and if you can’t get everyone on board, you’re facing a serious challenge.
Here’s the good news: The business case for an accessible website is extremely strong. While you might face some resistance when advocating for accessibility, the facts are on your side. Below, we’ll provide some tips for getting your team on board.
1. Focus on how an accessible website benefits real-life customers
When you begin discussing accessibility, start by establishing the scope.
Statistics can be extremely helpful here. For example, on this blog, we frequently mention that 26% of American adults live with a disability. We use that statistic because it’s powerful, accurate, and it comes from a reliable source (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Once you’ve demonstrated that every business has customers with disabilities, you can discuss the specific benefits of an accessible website:
The best practices of accessibility overlap with the best practices of search engine optimization (SEO). Accessible websites often perform better in search engine rankings, which means more organic traffic.
In the United States alone, adults with disabilities control about $490 billion in spending.
Accessibility limits legal risk. Digital products must be accessible to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws.
Every user benefits from accessibility features. For example, an accessible eCommerce store provides a more streamlined checkout process, which may increase conversion rates.
It’s also helpful to remember that the best practices of accessibility are closely aligned with the best practices of web development. Often, accessibility is treated as an extra barrier that slows down product development and strains budgets. That’s not the case: When prioritized early, accessibility provides an excellent return on investment and reduces long-term development costs.
By focusing on benefits, you can limit resistance — and get your team excited about the opportunity.
2. Discuss actionable steps that your organization can take
When presented with the facts, most reasonable people will agree that web accessibility is important. However, you can’t stop there: You need to provide a practical framework with reasonable steps.
Some of those steps will be specific to your industry. Others are more generally applicable to every organization:
Establish a goal for conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the consensus standards for digital accessibility. Most organizations should aim for Level AA conformance; read more about WCAG conformance levels.
Create a schedule for regular accessibility audits.
Include accessibility in your planning process. Consider developing accessible user experience (UX) personas.
Publish an accessibility statement that details your efforts.
Providing clear actions will help your team recognize the scope of the initiative. For more guidance, download our free eBook: Developing the Accessibility Mindset.
3. Be honest about the potential challenges
Accessibility requires dedication and hard work. Fortunately, it pays off — few initiatives can provide as strong of a return on investment. Even so, challenges are inevitable, and you should discuss how your team will respond. For example:
To incorporate the best practices, your team will need accessibility training, either through on-site training or remote courses.
Organizations often assign accessibility to a single team member, which can create liabilities if the team member leaves the organization. Instead, your team should share the responsibility — while still holding each other accountable.
If you’re making improvements to a published website or mobile app, you’ll need to develop a strategy for remediation.
Discussing those issues can make your case stronger. When your organization takes accessibility seriously, challenges can be overcome — but don’t give the impression that accessibility is a simple process that can be completed within a few weeks or months.
When you advocate for accessibility, everyone wins
WCAG provides clear rules for making improvements and developing an appropriate mindset — but for every accessibility initiative, the most valuable resource is a consistent advocate. By regularly discussing the needs and expectations of users with disabilities, you can help your organization build a sustainable approach.
We’re here to help. To start building a strategy, send us a message or get started with a free, confidential WCAG Level A/AA website analysis.