Demonstrating Value: Strategies for Measuring Accessibility Progress

If you embrace the adage "What Gets Measured Gets Done," you already know the value of evaluation and measurement. Measuring the progress of a corporate initiative helps keep it on track by identifying ways that it is—or isn't—meeting its intended goals. Metrics and measures can also demonstrate the need for a program in the first place, or prove that it's making a difference once implemented. This same logic applies to accessible workplace technology efforts. As you develop and implement your accessibility initiative, it's important to know—and be able to prove—that your activities are having a positive effect. Evaluation and measurement activities serve several purposes:

  • They help validate your accessibility activities and prove their worth, not only related in terms of return-on-investment but also other goals, including compliance to applicable laws and regulations.

  • They help identify where to concentrate your efforts—that is, which strategies are working well, and which should be eliminated or fine-tuned.

  • They provide positive content and metrics to share through your internal and external communication channels (e.g., with employees, customers, industry peers, and other audiences).

Developing Metrics

When it comes to defining measures of progress and success related to accessibility, companies have a lot of flexibility, but below are some common metrics, both quantitative and qualitative, used by employers and technology providers to build a case for and measure the success of their accessibility efforts.

Internal Staff and Leadership Metrics

  • Employee awareness of and satisfaction with technology usability and accessibility efforts—Record how your employees, both with and without disabilities, perceive your accessible technology efforts to help determine where to focus your initiative. Consider distributing a short survey or using a crowdsourcing tool to solicit employee feedback and gather suggestions for improvement.

  • Accessibility team member satisfaction—Collect feedback from those intimately involved in your accessibility initiative about the progress and impact of its efforts. For example, consider hosting regular team check-ins or providing evaluation forms to be completed by team members on a quarterly basis.

  • Supervisor feedback—Solicit anecdotal input on the impact of accessible technology on employees' productivity from those closest to them, such as front-line supervisors and managers. Although qualitative in nature, such information can help pinpoint successes and areas for improvement.

  • Executive leader and/or corporate accessible technology office feedback—Learn how your efforts are being perceived by leadership by collecting top-level feedback.

  • Staff training—Measure the number of employees who have completed particular accessibility courses or achieved professional recognition. Also document specific courses related to accessibility developed internally.

  • Industry memberships and events—Document participation in accessibility professional organizations or related industry events, which help demonstrate a company's commitment to accessibility. Examples include California State University at Northridge's Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, G3ict's Annual M-Enabling Summit or local Global Accessibility Awareness Day events.

     

Development, Procurement, and Technology Infrastructure Metrics

  • Procurements or internal development instances with different levels of explicit accessibility input—Document the number of information and communications technology (ICT) procurements in which accessibility information was collected, evaluated, and used as a factor in a purchasing decision, or intranet pages subjected to an automated or manual accessibility evaluation.

  • Program scope—Measure the scope or your accessible technology program, including the number of products or processes your accessibility program reaches and affects, the number of requests for proposal (RFPs) that include accessibility requirements, and the amount of accessibility testing you conduct on your products.

  • Remediation plans accepted and acted upon—Determine the number of times your company has had to remediate accessibility shortcomings on products you've adopted or developed can indicate how well you are responding to employee or market needs.

  • Products and/or processes moving up the "ladder" of accessibility—Make note of ICT products used in your workplace that no longer require difficult workarounds, or ones that now use built-in accessibility features instead of AT.

External Metrics

  • Keep a count of all ICT "cases" your initiative has handled, and the different levels of accessibility input you provided—If you're a technology provider, comments about the usability of the products you offer, both positive and negative, can help you determine how to prioritize your remediation and new development efforts.

  • Legal actions—Although it's not a pleasant metric, keeping track of formal complaints or litigation related to inaccessible technology produces, whether from customers or your own employees, is part of the job. Monitoring and quantifying the number of such actions can help measure the success of your efforts.

  • Consultations with advocacy organizations, individuals, or researchers—Tracking feedback from outside experts on the accessibility of products you either manufacture or provide your own employees can help inform your initiative.

  • Awards and other recognition—Winning awards for your accessibility efforts can go a long way toward validating your work on accessible technology. For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sponsors an annual competition for the Chairman Awards for Advancement in Accessibility (Chairman's AAA). You can also research industry organizations for appropriate opportunities, such as the Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) CES Innovation Awards, or advocacy organizations, such as the American Foundation for the Blind's (AFB) Access Awards or the Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI) Awards.

Such metrics should be collected on an ongoing basis. And once you have them, share them! Incorporate them into written reports—such as progress reports and your business case for accessible technology—and present them to accessibility team members and high-level executives. There's no better way to improve your accessibility initiative and show that it's necessary—and working for the good of your entire organization.