How to implement a successful accessibility process

In recent years, digital accessibility has become a more recognized need as an increasing number of people connected digitally, along with more businesses having an online presence. Statista’s 2019 report states that ~60% of people with a disability in the U.S. have internet access. With increased digital connectivity, there is also a rise in accessibility lawsuits, and more laws are under consideration for accessibility. Now more than ever, it is critical to keep accessibility at the front of mind.

How do you go beyond the hype and keep the commitment to creating accessible digital products? The most sustainable way is to create a process for accessibility work and incorporate it into your workflow. But what if you do not know how to do one for your organization? The quickest and most successful solution could be to see what processes already exist within your organization and try to adapt that successful process for accessibility.

The ideal situation is to have no imperfections, but is there such a process? If resources are available and you create a new product - annotating design prototypes with accessibility details before they reach developers will reduce the number of issues.

If you work with legacy code and decide to audit the already built products,  there is a chance there will be many issues - you might need a proper process to help manage accessibility issues.

At iSeatz, we have a very robust process for security vulnerability issues. Each issue is assigned a severity level, and each level has its deadline for how quickly development teams must fix those found vulnerabilities. Over many years, this process proved to be a very successful model, and we adapted it for accessibility.

The accessibility industry already categorizes the issues by impact level: critical (level 3), high (level 2), medium (level 1), and low (level 0). 

Critical issues create serious difficulties for people with disabilities. Those using Assistive Technology may feel frustrated when getting to the information. Some content might be hard to reach, putting the organization at risk of legal consequences.

High issues can create some challenges for people with disabilities, but they won’t completely stop them from getting to important stuff. If the issues become worse, the organization could get into legal trouble. Although these issues are a high priority, it is imperative to fix the critical issues first.

Moderate issues aren’t as bad for users as critical or high issues. Fixing them is good and encouraged, even if it doesn’t stop people from using or doing things in the app. The users will appreciate the improved experience.

Minor issues may be tricky bugs that are hard to reproduce and only happen sometimes. If you find an easy and not risky way to fix them, it’s worth considering.

At iSeatz, we combine critical and high issues into one level and assign a 30-day deadline. Moderate issues have a 60-day deadline, and low issues have a 90-day deadline. However, teams might be too busy to address everything according to suggested deadlines. Our goal is not to be 100% perfect but to have good enough applications for our diverse users. We always focus on critical or high issues, then moderate and low issues whenever possible.

Which process could your company adopt for accessibility?

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