Getting accessibility buy-in at work can make the difference between creating websites and apps that are usable and understandable to everyone, or preventing large segments of people from learning about your company and purchasing its products and services. But how do you achieve web accessibility buy-in?
While you might recognize the importance of web accessibility, others at your company may not. Perhaps they don't realize how much of the population has a disability. Maybe they don't know the many ways accessible content can benefit a company and its customers — for everyone, with and without a disability. They may not understand that accessibility is a civil right.
Hopefully this information helps as a starting point.
Four points to help persuade accessibility buy-in
This is not a strict how-to guide, but pointing out some of this information can be helpful in getting decision-makers on-board with web accessibility at your company.
1. Define web accessibility
Accessibility isn't something that's on everyone's radars yet and it's probably best to set some level of equal understanding before diving into the finer points. The goal is to educate and spread awareness, so go ahead and define the subject for your audience instead of leaving them to creatively define it themselves. Here is a great definition from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C):
"Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and techniques are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can:
- perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web
- contribute to the Web."
Note that this definition requires not only the ability to consume information, but to contribute.
2. Emphasize the benefits to your company
In some organizations, benefits seemingly geared toward the company will be prioritized over benefits to the consumer. Here are just a few that fall into that category.
- Accessibility benefits your brand. Accessibility allows more people to have positive experiences with your brand, creates greater opportunity for enthusiastic brand advocates, and increasingly aligns with people's values as more people become passionate about the subject. Read: Digital Accessibility Benefits Your Brand.
- Accessibility improves SEO. There is some overlap between SEO and accessibility best practices, and as such accessibility directly enhances SEO. This starts to make sense when we consider a simple example: search engines, much like screen readers, can't interpret the content in images unless a text alternative is present. Read: Five Ways to Improve Your SEO with Web Accessibility.
- Accessibility broadens your customer base. Accessibility increases the overall number of people who can use, easily use, or enjoyably use your website.
3. Address common accessibility myths
- "We don't sell to people with disabilities." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that 25% of US adults (61 million people), and 40% age 65 or older, have a disability. Spoiler: you sell to people with disabilities.
- "Only government agencies need to worry about accessibility." While it is true that government agencies do need accessible websites, one only needs to look at the rise in accessibility lawsuits to see that all industries need to pay attention to accessibility.
- "Accessible websites are ugly." Websites that are built to be accessible tend to have sleek, vivid, and sometimes simple designs. But, there is nothing preventing site owners from getting creative, including visually — there just needs to be a plan to make sure everyone can access the information.
4. Consider offering statistics and data
There is a lot of information available on the number of people with disabilities. Consider tapping into that data as an advocacy tool, but use your discretion. A number or figure that sounds impactful to you may be interpreted as small to someone else.
Tips and considerations when getting accessibility buy-in
Providing information is critical, but strategy can make all the difference. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the presentation or conversation.
Prepare for questions and objections
As a new topic for some people, you have to expect and be receptive to questions, and quite possibly objections. Try thinking ahead to the questions and objections you might get. What concerns might your company's leadership have? Why might they resist implementing accessibility?
Offer an implementation plan
This may or may not make sense, depending on your role and your confidence in the subject, but presenting a roadmap to achieving accessibility can help bridge ideas to action. It can also add a concrete element to what may otherwise seem abstract to your audience: here's where we are, here's where we want to be, and here's how we get there.
Have resources handy
Offering more context can help people feel more informed and possibly more open to accessibility's guiding principles. Aligning yourself with the resources of experts in the field can also add credibility to your argument. Here are a few resources to have close-by:
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
- Web Design and Accessibility: Basics every new designer should know
- Ultimate Guide to Web Accessibility
- Mobile Accessibility Checklist