Follow—and Join—the Accessibility Leader
Employers with strong, mature accessibility initiatives usually have support from the top—executives and other leaders who communicate their commitment to an information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure that is inclusive of people with disabilities throughout the organization.
Having a prominent individual lead your accessible technology initiative:
- Facilitates accessibility buy-in across your organization.
- Sets the tone for your organization's accessibility mindset.
- Makes it easier to establish goals and acquire accessibility-related resources.
- Sustains commitment to accessibility during economic downturns.
But what type of executive should spearhead your initiative? And how can you, as an internal accessibility advocate, recruit such a leader? PEAT suggests three easy action steps to get you on the right path:
- Aim High. The right person to lead your accessible technology initiative depends on the size and culture of your company. He or she could be a symbolic figurehead, or a well-placed executive or director-level person with specific accessibility responsibilities and resources. Some companies establish a high-ranking C-level position, such as a chief accessible technology officer, while others assign accessibility leadership to an IT department director. Various options are available to fit your situation. In many of the most successful companies, commitment to accessible technology comes straight from the top. For example, at Oracle Corporation, the company's president and chief financial officer has penned a statement about accessible technology that drives a company-wide mindset and appears in critical corporate communications. And while it is important that the top leader of a company express a commitment to including people with disabilities within the workforce—through technology and other means—it also helps to have multiple executives and managers who publicly reinforce this commitment.
- Recruit Logically and Creatively. When recruiting a leader (or team member) for your company's accessibility efforts, consider approaching executives who have a particular connection, commitment, or knowledge of disability issues, whether professional or personal. If you work for a large company, one way to find potential leaders is to review your company's public communications materials to see if anyone has spoken on disability or accessibility. Another strategy for identifying such leaders—or again, team members— is through your organization's disability-related employee resource group (ERG), if it has one.
- Approach and Persuade. Once you identify someone to help lead your accessibility effort, work hard to win him or her over. Prepare an effective pitch with specifics about the role and how it would be implemented, in both the near-term and long-term. If he or she seems daunted by the prospect (and if it's appropriate), volunteer to help him or her define the role, build a team, and plan or fine-tune the broader initiative. One great way to start is to introduce them to your organization's TechCheck benchmark readout.