Support Systemwide Change
Sustaining an accessible website does n0t happen automatically, and it cannot usually be accomplished by a person or two within an organization. It must be a shared effort that is supported by administration, communicated throughout the organization, and backed up with the necessary resources and support.
Get Administrative Buy-in
It is critical that you have the support of administrators and decision makers because they will secure or direct resources, personnel efforts, and eventually budget for those things that are important to them. If you are encountering any trouble with your accessibility efforts, ask yourself if you have the necessary buy-in from your administration.
Start by helping your administration understand the importance of accessibility (the call to action at the start of these resources may be a good place to start). Once you have their commitment, share the resources in this section to help them better understand how to launch a successful accessibility initiative.
- This six-minute video on what campus leaders have to say about accessibility is directed to higher ed, but it still provides useful insights into the things that matter to administrators.
- The W3C has created several useful Resources for Managers, with guides for how to (1) get a foundation, (2) get started now, and (3) get guidance.
Communicating and Sharing Commitment
Once your administration supports these accessibility efforts, it is important to communicate these same efforts to everyone within the organization. The way you share this message will vary based on your work culture, but it should usually begin with an announcement from your administration of a new (or renewed) commitment for accessibility. This announcement should reinforce the reason for this effort (aligning with an existing mission, making the website more inclusive, or addressing legal requirements) and should communicate a clear expectation and encourage and/or excite team members. This is often accompanied by activities to start creating a culture that encourages accessibility.
- Creating a culture of accessibility—Dropbox shares their strategies for spreading accessibility knowledge and enthusiasm throughout their company.
- Benetech’s Accessibility Statement—This nonprofit shares a comprehensive accessibility statement that includes a brief introduction outlining the importance of accessibility, their personal commitment, contact information, and details on specific accessibility features they implement on their website.
- WebAIM’s Hierarchy for Motivating Accessibility Change—This blog post explores why some common accessibility motivators (like guilt) are less effective, and why the ultimate motivator is inspiration.
Most of us have probably experienced the frustration of being assigned a new responsibility without also being given the necessary time or support. It can feel like one more thing added to an already overloaded schedule. This cannot always be avoided, but it can be reduced by making sure everyone within your team has the support they need for success.
Resources can be very tight within many nonprofits. Our primary goal within these pages is to provide free resources for content contributors, evaluators, developers, and anyone who is committed to making their own content more accessible. While there are many excellent free resources, there will still be some additional cost associated as you support accessibility efforts within your organization:
- It takes time to implement accessibility, which means adjusting deadlines and expectations. This commitment of extra time should decrease as people learn their new duties and after repairing existing webpages or documents, but it may not go away completely.
- Depending on their role, your team members may need professional development that goes beyond the free information found online. They may need to participate in an online course, attend training, or join conferences on the topic.
- Some people may need new or updated software to meet these new expectations (e.g., creating accessible PDFs).
- For larger organizations, you will probably need a person who has the role of accessibility contact (this may not be their only role). People must feel comfortable reaching out to this person when they have questions.
Web Accessibility: Guidelines for Administrators—This article was written to help administrators understand and promote web accessibility.