Accessible Technology: Setting Goals and Monitoring Progress

This article was contributed by Jeff Kline, the author of Strategic IT Accessibility: Enabling the OrganizationKline is the current Statewide Electronic and Information Resources (EIR) Accessibility Coordinator at the Texas Department of Information Resources and previous EIR Accessibility Coordinator at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Before entering public service, he spent 26 years at IBM, during which he managed its Worldwide Accessibility Consulting and Business Transformation initiatives and several other efforts related to product development, industrial design, software development and system usability.

Once an organization—whether a tech provider or an employer in any industry seeking to create a more disability-inclusive workplace—has initiated an accessibility initiative, how will it know if it’s making progress? As with all corporate initiatives, goals must be established and mechanisms put in place to track progress—the results of which must then be reported to management on an ongoing basis.

Goal criteria can be anything an organization deems relevant to achieving its long term accessibility objectives. One recommended approach is establishing short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals are more focused on tracking the commitment of the organization itself, whereas long-term goals link to desired end results, for example, for product portfolios, services rendered, and websites. Bear in mind that long-term metrics will likely be dependent on achieving short-term goals.

Here are some examples of where metrics and timelines can be established. It is important to note, however, that goals will necessarily vary depending on whether the organization is a technology provider looking to increase the accessibility of its products and services, or an employer in any industry seeking to ensure the products and services it procures are accessible to all employees and potential employees.

Examples of Short-Term Goals

  • Accessibility Training—Establishing timelines for training the following staff in accessibility:
    • Program and product managers
    • Developers and technical testers
    • General staff (awareness, how to create accessible documents)
    • Procurement staff
  • Selecting and procuring a scanning tool or service and initiating a scan of organization websites and applications (both public- and internal-facing)
  • Selecting and procuring development and testing tools that facilitate the building of accessible products
  • Performing an accessibility assessment for current product/service portfolio offerings and internal information and communications technology (ICT), and developing action plans to address issues

Examples of Long-Term Goals

  • Website Accessibility
    • Establishing an incremental timeline for reaching and maintaining full accessibility that: 
      • Can be based on regular scan results
      • Includes content goals (PDF, DOCX, videos—all forms of content used on the site)
  • Software/Service Offerings
    • Creating incremental timeline for making all current and future offerings accessible (Example: X% increase of accessible products each year)
  • Internal Information Technology (IT)
    • Creating incremental timeline for making all current and future offerings accessible (Example: Increase procurement of accessible IT X% per year)
  • Revenue (Private Sector)
    • Aim for a specific revenue increase based on bid results with accessibility requirements

Reporting Progress

To ensure that momentum is maintained, it’s important to communicate status periodically to organizational stakeholders, especially the leadership team. This can be accomplished in several ways: face-to-face meetings, written reports, or a combination of both.

Reporting status to upper management keeps accessibility squarely on the executive radar. Not only can it be used to show organization progress, but also serve as a vehicle to communicate about problems or issues that require more focus—or, in some cases, executive support.

Reporting can also be a tool that motivates stakeholders to increase focus in areas where progress is slow. This is particularly effective (sometimes even explosive!) when all areas are compared to each other, such as on the bar chart below. After all, what area wants to be the one showing the least progress? As the adage goes, competition is the mother of invention!

Bar graph comparing various subunits of an organization by  percentages of compliant web pages

Remember, becoming an accessible organization is a journey. Some of the steps are challenging, but with top level support and a good methodology the destination can be reached.

Join the Conversation

Have you had success setting and monitoring the progress of your accessibility programs? If so, we want to hear from you! Please contact us to share your company’s strategies and best practices in meeting your goals to ensure the technology in your workplace is accessible. 

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