September 18, 2020 Last updated September 19th, 2020 113 Reads share

How to Achieve an Agile Transformation of Web Accessibility Practices at Your Organization?

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In earlier days, it was a common conception that web accessibility practices could not get incorporated in an agile environment. That’s mostly because, in those days, making a website accessible was a manual, time taking and expensive process. Many developers compared website accessibility to the hydra dragon. When they solved one accessibility issue, two more problems were detected. Testing a website for accessibility was also a slow and manual process. Usability testing was the only full-proof way to ensure that the website is accessible to people with disabilities.

But those days are long gone.

Automated solutions like accessiBe use AI to solve accessibility problems in real-time. So businesses can finally think of integrating website accessibility with agile transformational practices. Other testers like WAVE analyze your website to check if it’s accessible and what are the weak accessibility elements in it.

Agile Transformation

Agile adoption and Agile Transformation are two processes that are used by organizations to change the way they run in the present age. While adoption is a reactive process, transformation is a proactive step taken by businesses to ensure that they can match with the changes in the market while keeping their customers satisfied and their costs controlled. An Agile transformation has four major values.

  • People and communications are more important than tools and methods
  • A working software/solution is better than extensive documents.
  • Customers are more important than contracts.
  • Being flexible to changes is required over sticking to the plan.

Agile Transformation of Accessibility

For an organization, testing their website and using an automated system to optimize its accessibility of not enough to ensure an agile transformation. While an AI-powered automated software might ensure that their website is ADA compliant and meets the current Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1), it might not change the way the organization functions. The employees of the organization need to learn more about website accessibility than using automated testings and continuous integration of fresh content. The management needs to bring about changes to the practices to every department at every level of the hierarchy.

Active management is essential to integrate accessibility with the agile transformation of an organization. Developers, designers, and content creators do not make conscious efforts to make their products or websites inaccessible to people with disabilities. More than often, they are not aware of the correct practices that must be followed to ensure that they practice accessibility at their workplace. Most developers and content creators do not come in contact with people with disabilities, so they might be unaware of the challenges faced by such people in their everyday lives, including accessing the internet.

Introduce Your Organization to Disabilities

Most people working at your organization do not understand the barriers faced by people with disabilities. A simple way to make them realize it is to introduce them to various types of assistive devices. Screen readers, head-trackers, switches, and other assistive technologies can tell people a lot about the methods used by individuals with disabilities.

You can ask them to access the websites they design and complete transactions without a mouse, without colors, or with higher contrasts. Turn off the images or the CSS layouts and ask them to go through the contents of the website. You can also take your employees to an organization where they can see people with disabilities using assistive devices to access websites. It will also give them a chance to speak to the individuals and understand what they need to complete tasks on websites.

Once your employees can see for themselves how users with disabilities access the internet, they will start to churn ideas about how to make their work accessible. The fact is, you would not only have introduced them to technological devices. You would have introduced them to empathy. They would realize the gaps in their skills and try to find ways to fill them. Empathy and care can be great motivators to achieve goals for any organization. Once you can get your team motivated to close the skill gaps, you can teach your team to put the customers before their existing methods to work and achieve solutions for people with special needs.

Appoint Accessibility Leaders

Once you have completed the motivational phase, you need to assign leaders who will make sure that the transformation is complete. These leaders will also ensure that web accessibility is an ongoing process and practiced externally as well as internally in your organization. They must have specific goals and guidelines that can help them keep the teams motivated to achieve accessibility goals. Accessibility leaders will be responsible to set achievable milestones for employees that can be comparable so that there can be a sense of healthy competition amongst teams. These leaders will also ensure that the team that meets these goals can celebrate their win so that other teams stay motivated as well. Accessibility leaders should have their own set of metrics and KPIs that they must meet.

Implementing these web accessibility practices can ensure that your organization can undergo an agile transformation. Assigning a central team of accessibility leaders will also make sure that the practices are maintained within your organization while meeting long term goals.

handicap accessible concept -DepositPhotos

Jeffrey Corolla

Jeffrey Corolla

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